Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas is something of a hero to us here at Female First. His bravery to come out as a gay man in a masculine, male-dominated industry was inspiring enough, but to then request restorative justice rather than a criminal sentencing for a teenager who assaulted him for his sexuality last year really showed the extent of his decency and compassion as a human being.

Health on Female First

Health on Female First

Now he's courageously revealed to the world that he is living with HIV, and is doing his bit to end the stigma surrounding the disease. Of course, the news is bringing all kinds of ignorant people out of the woodwork, such as Steve Brookstein who naively compared HIV to obesity or smoking as if it were some kind of choice. Now that's a new one.

Here are five other myths about HIV we want to dispel right now:

Myth #1 - It will kill the infected

Thirty years ago, HIV may have been a death sentence for those who contracted it but thanks to advances in medicine, there's no reason why somebody with HIV today can't go on to live a perfectly normal, healthy, long life. A combination of antiretroviral drugs prevent the virus from replicating in the body, allowing the immune system to repair itself. There is no cure fod HIV yet, but it is possible to reduce the viral load to undetectable levels which make it more difficult to transmit.

Myth #2 - Only gay men get HIV

While it's true that sexually active gay men are among some of the most at risk, it is more than possible to contract HIV through unprotected sex between a man and a woman. Drug users are also at a high risk if they are sharing needles. In fact, almost half of people living with HIV globally are woman.

Myth #3 - You can't have kids if you have HIV

While protected sex is encouraged if you are in a relationship where one or both of you has HIV, it is still possible to have children naturally and not pass on the disease as long as your antiretroviral medication has put your virus levels at a low risk stage. However, it is always best to get advice from a doctor before trying to conceive.

Myth #4 - You can catch HIV from a toilet seat

HIV can only be contracted through contact with HIV-infected semen, vaginal fluid, blood, breast milk and the lining of the anus, and these fluids can only enter the bloodstream through anal, vaginal or oral sex, needles, and cuts and sores,

It CANNOT be transmitted through saliva, sweat or urine, which means your chances or getting it through sharing a toilet seat with a HIV-positive person is slim to nil. You also can't catch it through kissing, spitting, being bitten or being sneezed on, unless their blood was mixed in with these bodily fluids and you have an open wound which makes contact.

Myth #5 - Couples with HIV don't need to use protection

Even if two sexual partners both have HIV, that doesn't mean they don't have to worry about using protection. If you are HIV-positive, you are still at risk of different, drug-resistant strains of the disease and it's much harder to manage the condition when you have more than one strain of the same virus.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk

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