Charlie Sheen recently admitted that he is indeed Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) positive and the public was quick to blame the condition on his lifestyle. However, during his interview, he discussed some of the misconceptions that people still seem to blindly believe about AIDS in spite of the major advances in medical technology since the disease's discovery in the 1980s.
Who has which?
First off, people have to understand that HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are not the same. HIV is a virus whereas AIDS is a syndrome. An HIV positive individual does not necessarily have AIDS. However, a person with AIDS is HIV positive since AIDS is the very last stage of the virus.
What Sheen has is an autoimmune virus much like lupus, in which a person's immune system is attacking its own body instead of protecting it. The main difference is that only HIV can lead to AIDS. So what is AIDS? AIDS happens when a person's immune system has already attacked its own body beyond repair, causing the body to be so defenseless that even the mildest form of a common cold can prove lethal. AIDS happens when the normal 500 to 1,600 CD4 cells per cubic millimeter of blood falls lower than 200 CD4 cells. CD4 cells, also called T-helper cells, are a type of white blood cell that fights infection.
It's not that easy to contract
No, you won't get infected with HIV by existing in close proximity with an HIV positive individual - even breathing the same air, eating the same food, using the same things, getting bitten by the same insect, hugging, kissing or touching the individual won't spread the infection. An HIV positive individual can have HIV negative offsprings. It would take a lot more for one to get infected but the biggest risks come from engaging in unprotected sex, using infected needles, and receiving blood transfusions from infected individuals.
— ARE (@AIDS_Response) August 14, 2015
There is a little hope... for people with money
There is no cure for AIDS but there are medications that an HIV positive person can take to suppress the virus. In the U.S., HIV is not that big of an issue, especially for the wealthy people who are able to purchase medications and receive the constant and necessary care, however, it's not the same for the poorer citizens.
It's everyone's problem
HIV and AIDS are not homosexual problems but diseases that can affect anyone regardless of age, race, sexual orientation and lifestyle. It is a virus and viruses don't choose.
HIV positive individuals are just normal people trying to lead normal lives in spite of their own body going against them. There is no reason to shame or stay away from people with HIV, unless they're rude but it wouldn't hurt to be educated about the disease.