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Survey reveals misconceptions about HIV

Almost one third of Britons think you can catch HIV by sharing a toothbrush with someone who is infected, a survey has suggested.
AIDS ribbon

Almost one third of Britons think you can catch HIV by sharing a toothbrush with someone who is infected, a survey has suggested.

The YouGov study also shows 1 in 10 people believe the virus can be transmitted through sharing scissors at the hairdresser.

The findings which come on World Aids Day show that 'inaccurate myths from the 1980s are still deeply entrenched in society', according to the Terrence Higgins Trust.

A campaign has been launched by the charity to encourage people to wear red ribbons to raise awareness.

The findings also show less than one-third (29%) know those receiving effective treatment could have children without passing the virus on.

Terrence Higgins chief

Almost one third of Britons think you can catch HIV by sharing a toothbrush with someone who is infected, a survey has suggested.

The YouGov study also shows 1 in 10 people believe the virus can be transmitted through sharing scissors at the hairdresser.

 iStock
Wearing a red ribbon can help raise awareness of HIV. Picture: iStock

The findings – which come on World Aids Day – show that 'inaccurate myths from the 1980s are still deeply entrenched in society', according to the Terrence Higgins Trust.

A campaign has been launched by the charity to encourage people to wear red ribbons to raise awareness.

The findings also show less than one-third (29%) know those receiving effective treatment could have children without passing the virus on.

Terrence Higgins chief executive Ian Green said: 'We've come a long way since the Aids crisis first emerged, when the nation was gripped by panic and fear.

'But it's not over – while science has moved on, we can see today that inaccurate myths from the 1980s are still deeply entrenched in society, both in terms of how HIV is transmitted, and what it's like to live with HIV.

'Misunderstanding of the virus can fuel stigma and cause immense distress for people coming to terms with an HIV diagnosis.'

Late diagnosis damage

About 6,000 people were diagnosed in the UK last year, with some 90,000 living with the virus and accessing care, according to Public Health England.

Four in 10 diagnoses are 'late', meaning the virus has already started damaging the immune system – a situation the Terrence Higgins Trust said was unacceptable.

Mr Green praised the so-called Prince Harry effect as demand for self-check kits increased fivefold after the prince was pictured getting tested in July.

The YouGov survey was carried out online in October and had a total sample size of 2,030 representative adults.


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