Despite AIDS research and education, some myths still remain

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Despite AIDS Research and Education, Some Myths Still Remain

According to UNAIDS, HIV/AIDS has claimed more than 33 million lives since 1990. In that same time frame, we've seen the number of people dying from AIDS peak and then gradually go down. That can be credited to a myriad of things from advances in medicine and research to an increase in condom usage.

But education about the HIV/AIDS is probably the most important. And though more information has become more readily available, some misinformation is out there as well.

HIV is transferred through fluids like blood, semen and breast milk. Those fluids can travel through mucous membranes during sex, or right into the bloodstream through needles or syringes.

One of the most confusing myths still out there is that you can transmit HIV through kissing, which, according to the UK's National AIDS Trust, 16 percent of people still believe.

Photos from World AIDS Day 2015:
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World AIDS Day 2015
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Despite AIDS research and education, some myths still remain
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: The Empire State building is lit with red lights in honor of World Aids Day on November 30, 2015 in New York City. The annual event is observed December 1. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Indian social activists and children release a World AIDS Day awareness sign tied with ballons in Kolkata on December 1, 2015. According to the UN AIDS programme, India had the third-largest number of people living with HIV in the world at the end of 2013 and it accounts for more than half of all AIDS-related deaths in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2012, 140,000 people died in India because of AIDS. The Indian government has been providing free antiretroviral drugs for HIV treatment since 2004, but only 50 percent of those eligible for the treatment were getting it in 2012, according to a report by the World Health Organisation. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP / DIBYANGSHU SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Volunteers stand with placards beside a huge red ribbon lighted with lamps during an awareness rally on AIDS day on the banks of the Ganges River in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/ Bikas Das)
South Korean middle school students hold umbrellas as they form a giant red ribbon during a ceremony to mark World AIDS Day in Seoul on December 1, 2015. Official data show 9,615 South Koreans have been infected with the disease. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE / AFP / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 01: A red Apple logo is displayed during the launch of the world AIDS day 2015 campaign at the Apple store Paris in 'Carrousel du Louvre' on December 01, 2015 in Paris, France. In recognition of World AIDS Day, 1st December, Apple Stores across the globe have turned the logo red. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
A woman holds a red ribbon symbol of the fight against AIDS during a demonstration on the World Aids Day, in Pamplona northern Spain, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
A man lays flowers at the memorial monument dedicated to AIDS victims, to mark the 'World AIDS Day' and in memory of those who have died of AIDS in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
This picture taken on November 30, 2015 shows volunteers holding red ribbons above a piece of paper written in Chinese that reads ''Red ribbons bring warmth to everyone to prevent AIDS' during an event for World Aids Day in Chongqing. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A nun walks past by the AIDS sign during a campaign to mark World AIDS Day in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. World AIDS Day is observed on Dec. 1 every year to increase awareness about the AIDS. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A woman holds baskets with reds ribbon symbol of the fight against AIDS, center, and prophylactics during a demonstration on the World Aids Day, in Pamplona northern Spain, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 30: Members of the city's gay community carry a banner that reads: 'Mourning March' as they walk in a procession to commemorate AIDS victims the day before World AIDS Day on November 30, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. According to a recent report released by UNAIDS, the number of worldwide cases fell in 2014 though AIDS remains the leading killer of teenaged males in Africa and AIDS cases are rising in countries across eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, with the main means of transmission being heterosexual sex. According to the report 36.9 million people worldwide carried the HIV virus by the end of 2014. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A participant delivers a speech about AIDS in front of the red ribbon, the international symbol for AIDS awareness during a campaign to mark World AIDS Day in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. World AIDS Day is observed on Dec. 1 every year to increase awareness about the AIDS. The words, partly seen background, read "The 28th World AIDS Day". (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
SURABAYA, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 01 : Indonesian students light dozens of candles as an act of solidarity with the World AIDS Day in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia on December 01, 2015. People around the world commemorate the 01 December as World AIDS Day aiming to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in the world caused by the spread of the HIV virus. (Photo by Suryanto/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Indian NGO volunteers light candles in the shape of a ribbon during an awareness rally on the eve of World Aids Day in Agartala, the capital of northeastern state of Tripura on November 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ ARINDAM DEY / AFP / ARINDAM DEY (Photo credit should read ARINDAM DEY/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian couple walks past a sand sculpture on the eve of World AIDS Day, created by sand artist Sudarsan pattnaik on Golden Sea Beach in Puri, some 65 kms east of Bhubaneswar on November 30, 2015. World AIDS Day is celebrated on December 1 every year to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. AFP PHOTO / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A HIV-positive person from the Support and Care Centre of the Sumanahalli Society prepares 'red ribbons' on the eve of World Aids Day in Bangalore on November 30, 2015. Globally about 36.9 million people are living with HIV including 2.6 million children, while the global response to HIV has averted 30 million new HIV infections and nearly 8 million deaths since 2000. AFP PHOTO/ Manjunath KIRAN / AFP / Manjunath Kiran (Photo credit should read MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian school students pose for a photograph as they stand in the shape of a ribbon during an awareness campaign on the eve of World AIDS Day, in Amritsar on December 1, 2015. The UNAIDS agency says some 2.5 million Indians are living with HIV, many of them ostracised by their communities. AFP PHOTO/ NARINDER NANU / AFP / NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)
A HIV-positive person from the Support and Care Centre of the Sumanahalli Society prepares 'red ribbons' on the eve of World Aids Day in Bangalore on November 30, 2015. Globally about 36.9 million people are living with HIV including 2.6 million children, while the global response to HIV has averted 30 million new HIV infections and nearly 8 million deaths since 2000. AFP PHOTO/ Manjunath KIRAN / AFP / Manjunath Kiran (Photo credit should read MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese women and children from âMaiti Nepalâ, a rehabilitation center for victims of sex trafficking, light candles on the eve of World Aids Day in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 every year to raise the awareness in the fight against HIV. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Nepalese women and children from âMaiti Nepalâ, a rehabilitation center for victims of sex trafficking, light candles on the eve of World Aids Day in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 every year to raise the awareness in the fight against HIV. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Indian school children and social activists hold candles and posters during a rally to create AIDS awareness on the eve of Worlds AIDS day, in Kolkata on November 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP / DIBYANGSHU SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian school children and social activists hold candles and posters during a rally to create AIDS awareness on the eve of Worlds AIDS day, in Kolkata on November 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP / DIBYANGSHU SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian school children and social activists hold candles and posters during a rally to create AIDS awareness on the eve of Worlds AIDS day, in Kolkata on November 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP / DIBYANGSHU SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
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Let's be clear HIV is not spread through saliva. At all. The CDC says "deep open-mouth kissing" could lead to contracting the disease but only if the person with HIV has "sores or bleeding gums and blood is exchanged."

While it's true HIV is more prevalent in some communities than others, it's important to remember the disease can impact anyone. The myth that only those who frequently participate in risky sexual behavior or intravenous drug use contract the disease is just not true. It just takes being exposed once.

As HIV research has advanced, so has access to antiretroviral drugs. ARVs can't cure the disease but studies show the treatment can cut the risk of transmitting HIV for some people by 96 percent, while also allowing those who already have the disease to live longer and healthier lives. With the introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, people with a high risk for HIV contraction can reduce that risk by 92 percent.

The ultimate goal of the United Nations is to end the AIDs epidemic completely. That plan includes zero new HIV infections and zero AIDS-related deaths in the next 15 years.

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