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Myths and facts about HIV

Ways you can help yourself or support issues relating to HIV

1. Invite a guest speaker into your school or youth provision – Invite Sahir House or a sexual health professional to your school or youth organisation to talk about HIV issues. Addressing education not only reduces stigma it also helps to make people aware of how to reduce or prevent HIV transmission.

2. Wear a red ribbon – the HIV symbol that raises awareness, shows support for people living with HIV and remembers those who have died of HIV related illnesses. On December 1st each year World AIDS Day seeks to support HIV awareness and remembrance. Look out for your Red Ribbon.

3. Use a condom if you are going to have sex and think about your sexual health. This one simple thing you can do is the only effective barrier to HIV being passed on through unprotected sex. Know where to get FREE condoms from and how to use them. Knowsley Sexual Health Services, THinK clinics and Knowsley C-card sites can all provide free condoms, advice and information. Go to our sexual health section for more detailed information.

4. If you have had unprotected sex once, go and get an HIV test, know your HIV status. Visit your local sexual health clinic for confidential specialist advice and information.

5. Understand about HIV and related issues and educate yourself and others about the facts. If you or someone you know may need help, information advice or support concerning HIV or related issues then help is available from:

Knowsley Contraception and Sexual Health Clinics
Provide free and confidential help specialist information, advice and treatment on sexual health matters. For more information on clinic times and venues look at the THinK Clinic information or;
Call 0151 244 3580 or visit

Sahir House
Sahir House provides information and support to people living with, or affected by or at risk of HIV, and to increase knowledge and reduce stigma related to HIV and sexual health among the wider population. For more information;
Call 0151 237 3989 or visit

Provide sexual health and advice services for young people under 25.
Call Brook Liverpool on 0151 207 4000 or visit

Knowsley NHS Walk-in Centres
Provide treatment for minor illnesses and injuries without an appointment. It’s a type of service that offers a convenient alternative to your GP. They are open 365 days per year and can provide Emergency Hormonal Contraception as well as pregnancy and Chlamydia testing. For more information and to find more details on centre opening times etc call:

Huyton 0151 244 3150
Kirkby 0151 244 3180
Halewood 0151 244 3532
Or go to
Knowsley Youth Mutual
Provides services relating to young people and advice.  Free condoms are available from C-card sites across many Knowsley Youth Mutual Youth Clubs by speaking to a youth worker. For more information and to find more details on centre opening times call the following offices:

North Area (Kirkby) 0151 443 4466
Central Area (Huyton) 0151 443 5333
South Area (Prescot) 0151 443 4542
Our Place (Borough wide facility) 0151 443 5323
Or go to:

5 myths about HIV.

1. You have to sleep around to be at risk of getting HIV.
You don’t have to sleep around to get HIV. If you have unprotected penetrative sex just once, without a condom, even with the same one person then you could be at risk of an STI including HIV. Sometimes it can be difficult to ask about a partner’s previous sexual history. A partners sexual history and unknown HIV status needs considering as positive relationships should be built on trust, respect and making good choices. Using condoms and talking about good sexual health is a great way to show your partner you are responsible and how much you care about them.

2. HIV only affects gay people.
HIV is not prejudiced and anyone regardless of their sexual preference can get HIV. Statistics show that half the people (50%) living with HIV are heterosexual.

3. You can’t have children if you are HIV positive.
Actually this is not the case. Women who are HIV positive can still have children as their pregnancy is monitored carefully and medication used to protect their unborn baby. Men who are HIV positive are also able to have children as a procedure called sperm washing can be used to reduce HIV transmission to a mother and later the unborn baby. Expectant mothers are tested for HIV during pregnancy, though they can opt out, to identify their HIV status and to act accordingly if found HIV positive. HIV pregnant woman can be provided with medication and specialist monitoring as well as birth delivery options that help reduce mother to child transmission. Figures show that just ½ % of children born to HIV positive mothers are born with HIV themselves. This is due to careful monitoring of the pregnancy.

4. Most people with HIV get diagnosed right away.
People can live with HIV for many years without any symptoms that they may be positive. Some estimates suggest that about a quarter of people living with HIV (over 26,100) do not know they are infected. In terms of HIV status they are untested and have no knowledge. If a person has had unprotected sex and taken risks tests can detect signs of HIV in the blood immediately although it could be up to 3 months for antibodies to appear in the blood.

5. You can acquire HIV from kissing, shaking hands, using toilets, tattooing, body piercing and haircuts.
These are all complete myths. As pointed out in the ‘What are the facts about HIV’ section. The main 3 routes of HIV transmission are having unprotected penetrative sex, sharing injecting equipment and from mother to baby during pregnancy, during birth delivery

1. What does HIV stand for and how is it passed on?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that damages an infected person’s immune system. HIV is found in sex fluids and the breast milk of an infected person. It is a fragile virus and does not survive outside the body for long. HIV weakens a person’s immune system and over time this becomes increasingly damaged if a person is not on treatment. When HIV damages a person’s immune system to a very weak point then they may develop AIDs (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) due to having a collection of illnesses caused by the virus.

There are 3 main ways of passing HIV from one person to another, often referred to as routes of transmission. The main 3 routes of HIV transmission include:

- Unprotected penetrative sex (penetrative sex without a using a condom)
- Sharing injecting equipment
- From mother to baby during pregnancy, during birth delivery and/or breastfeeding.

2. Most people get HIV through unprotected penetrative sex!

There are lots of myths about how people can get HIV but the simple fact is the most common route of transmission for HIV being passed from one person to another is from having unprotected penetrative sex (vaginally and/or anally). Figures from Public Health England in 2013 showed that 95% of those diagnosed with HIV in the UK got HIV through sexual contact.

3. Condoms are the only barrier to stop HIV being passed from one person to another when having penetrative sex!

HIV like other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) can be prevented when people practice safer sex and use condoms. If you have sex without using a condom then you risk picking up an STI including HIV. For more information on specialist services, safer sex, relationships and where to get free condom’s through C-Card go to the sexual health section on our website.

4. Know your HIV status!

Having unprotected penetrative sex carries a risk of transmitting HIV from one person to another. Everyone has an HIV status. These statuses are HIV positive, HIV negative and untested.

- If someone tests HIV positive they have the HIV virus in their body.
- HIV negative means a person does not have the virus in their body.
- Untested. If you have had unprotected sex and have not had a HIV test then you are untested.

Early testing for HIV means better treatment outcomes if you are HIV positive. The treatments available mean that you can receive much better options and drugs that can supress or slow down the rate at which HIV develops. There is no cure for HIV however treatment can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. People on HIV treatment can live a healthy, active life, although they may experience side effects from the treatment. If HIV is diagnosed late, treatment may be less effective.


5. An HIV test is a simple blood test.

There are two simple HIV testing options available to find out your HIV status. Point of care (a service that can provide a free confidential test) is a simple finger prick that draws out a tiny amount of blood for testing and can give results immediately at the same time of testing if the virus is detected. A second test is done in a laboratory. A lab sample test takes blood that is sent off to a laboratory and results are sent back once a thorough analysis is done to detect the HIV virus.

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