Common Misconceptions about HIV in Singapore


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a viral infection that attacks the immune system, gradually weakening the body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases. Despite significant advances in medical understanding and treatments, misconceptions about HIV still persist, contributing to stigma, discrimination, and misinformation.

In this article, we discuss the most common misconceptions about HIV

Misconception #1: HIV Can Be Cured

Currently, there is no cure for HIV. However, people with HIV can receive effective treatments known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). It involves using medications that suppress the replication of the virus within the body. The primary goal of ART is to reduce the viral load in the blood to undetectable levels, allowing the immune system to recover and function normally. Consequently, ART helps to prevent HIV from progressing into AIDS, minimises the risk of HIV transmission, and improves the overall health and life expectancy of people with HIV.

Misconception #2: HIV Can Be Transmitted Through Saliva or by Sharing Food

Only certain bodily fluids like blood, breast milk, vaginal fluid, semen, and rectal fluids, can spread HIV. Therefore, you will not get HIV if you share food, drinks, or utensils with an HIV-positive individual. Consuming food and drinks handled by a person with HIV does not transmit the virus either.

Deep, open-mouth kissing, and oral sex, can rarely transmit HIV. In fact, there has not been a documented case of HIV transmission via oral sex proven with genetic fingerprinting. Read more about Dr Tan’s views at

Misconception #3: HIV is Only Transmitted Through Sexual Intercourse

While sexual intercourse most commonly transmits HIV, the virus may also be transmitted through other means. Another way is pre- and perinatal transmission, where an HIV-positive mother infects the baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.

In some cases, sharing contaminated needles and syringes previously used by an HIV-positive person can also transmit the virus. HIV may also be transmitted during a blood transfusion or organ transplant.

Misconception #4: HIV is A Death Sentence

Although there is no cure for it, people with HIV can lead near-normal lives with active and productive lifestyles if they receive timely HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy) and adhere to close monitoring and management of their health in the long run.

Misconception #5: HIV-Positive Mothers Will Pass the Virus to the Baby

Proper and timely HIV treatment for the pregnant woman significantly decreases the risk of transmission during pregnancy or birth. After birth, the baby may be given HIV medications. Women with undetectable viral loads may also be allowed to breastfeed, but should receive close follow-ups with their doctor to minimise the risk of HIV transmission.

Misconception #6: HIV Is the Same as AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the most advanced stage of an HIV infection. It occurs when the immune system is severely compromised as a result from untreated HIV. Hence, prompt treatment of HIV is essential to prevent the progression of a HIV infection to AIDS.

Dr Tan Medical Center is a men’s health and sexual health clinic in Singapore with a primary focus on conducting screenings and delivering treatments for HIV and various other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Patient privacy and welfare is our priority, and we ensuring a confidential and supportive approach throughout your care.

“Every patient deserves our fullest attention.”

Dr Tan Medical Centre

10 Sinaran Drive #09-30, Novena Medical Centre, Singapore 307506

Tel: (+65) 6513 0359 WhatsApp: (+65) 9750 5037

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