| Aids resource manual - A guide for teaching about AIDS in Thailand |
|Section I - Basic facts about AIDS|
QUESTION: What happens if you live close to a person with AIDS?
Living someone who has AIDS or who is infected with the AIDS virus (HIV positive) will not give you AIDS. You can live in the same neighborhood, building, or village and this will not give you the disease. In fact, you can live quite safely in the same room with someone who has AIDS, provided that he or she is not your sexual partner.
QUESTION: But what if an HIV infected person coughs on you?
The AIDS virus spreads through sexual fluids and through blood. It does not spread through the air, through breathing, or coughing. So if someone infected with HIV coughs on you, it is much the same as anyone else coughing on you; you may catch a cold, if the person has a cold, but you will not catch AIDS.
QUESTION: What about using the same toilet?
You will not get AIDS from toilets. This applies to both public and private toilets, and is true even if they are dirty.
QUESTION: If I am bitten by an insect that has just bitten a person with the AIDS virus, will I become infected?
Many people worry about AIDS from insects, but the evidence is that the AIDS virus is not spread by insects. If it were spread in this way everyone bitten by insects would be at high risk of infection.
QUESTION: Why can't mosquitos spread AIDS?
There are various reasons why mosquitos don't spread HIV. From the way they bite it might be thought that a mosquito was like a flying hypodermic needle, contaminated and spreading the virus by injection whenever it bites. This is an imaginative idea but it is NOT correct.
Mosquitos do not inject blood, they draw blood. When they bite, they inject a substance that keeps blood from dotting and then suck blood out. When they fly off, they do so to digest their meal, not to inject it into another human being. What is more, only tiny amounts of blood are involved, with a very low likelihood of the AIDS virus being present even in blood from an infected person. After a mosquito has drawn blood, there is another obstacle for any virus that might be inside the mosquito's body. We know that the virus lives in some cells of the human body and that it does not live in insect's cells; in other words, mosquitos are not a suitable home for HIV. The virus is NOT like the malaria parasite.
QUESTION: What about injections?
Avoid injections unless absolutely necessary. If you must have an injection, make sure the needle and syringe come straight from a sterile package or have been sterilized properly; a needle and syringe that have been cleaned and then boiled for 20 minutes are ready for reuse. Finally, if you inject drugs, of whatever kind, never use anyone else's equipment.
QUESTION: What about having a tattoo or your ears pierced?
Tattooing, ear-piercing, and acupuncture all involve instruments that must be sterile. In general, you should avoid any procedure where the skin is pierced unless absolutely necessary.
QUESTION: What about going to the dentist?
Most all dentists today follow what are known as universal precautions. Going to the dentist today and having invasive work done is usually quite safe. If you have any concerns or questions about procedures used to clean instruments or needles, discuss them with your dentist. Ask him or her to explain safety and sterilization techniques before you have work done. Also, your dentist should be wearing proper gowns and sterile gloves during the operation as well.
QUESTION: AIDS is a deadly disease, isn't it?
Yes, but that does not mean it is everywhere or in everything, just waiting to infect you. Infection does not spread through the air, by touch, or through food and drink. You can sit next to people with AIDS, work beside them, or ride in a crowded bus amongst them. The virus does not spread by this kind of contact.