Almost every type of HIV-related discrimination and associated stigma -– from denials of medical treatment or admission to schools and camps to unwarranted felony prosecutions for HIV “exposure” -– is rooted in gross misperceptions about the actual routes, risks and current realities of HIV transmission and treatment. Extraordinary progress in treatment options has transformed what it means to live with HIV, yet public understanding of HIV seems largely stuck in the 1980’s, before HIV was a treatable, chronic disease.
This fact sheet was created as part of a larger effort to replace that ignorance with information about what is currently well-known about how HIV is and is not transmitted, and how modern HIV care has transformed the health and longevity of people living with HIV while reducing transmission to others. The information it contains is excerpted in part from “HIV Medicine and Science: Transmission Considerations,” a slide presentation by Dr. David Wohl, Associate Professor/Site Leader at Univ. North Carolina AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at Chapel Hill, Director of the North Carolina AIDS Education and Training Center, and Co-Director of HIV Services for the N.C. Department of Public Safety. Dr. Wendy Armstrong, Associate Professor of Medicine at Emory Univ. School of Medicine, and Medical Director, Ponce de Leon Clinic/Grady Health System, and Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, one of the earliest researchers and most respected clinicians in the field of HIV, provided invaluable review and input. We hope it will be useful for people with HIV and their advocates as well as policy makers and the press.
This publication was updated in 2017.