What is HIV/AIDS? 171
How HIV/AIDS is not spread
HIV does not live outside the human body
for more than a few minutes. It cannot live
on its own in the air or in the water. This
means you cannot give or get HIV by:
• touching, hugging, or
• sharing food
• sharing a bed
• sharing clothes,
• insect bites
Touching does not
How HIV/AIDS affects women
Women with HIV often become sick with AIDS more quickly than men do. Poor
nutrition and childbearing may make women less able to fight disease. Also,
women get infected with HIV more easily than men do. When a man’s semen gets
into a woman’s body during sex, it can easily pass through her vagina or cervix into
her blood, especially if there are any cuts or sores. This can happen whether or not
the woman has a disability.
Dangerous ideas about HIV/AIDS and women with disabilities
One of the most harmful and wrong ideas about HIV/AIDS is that if a person
with HIV/AIDS has sex with someone who has never had sex before (a virgin),
the person with HIV/AIDS will be cured. Because of this wrong idea, a man
who has HIV/AIDS may seek out women with a disability if he thinks that,
because she is disabled, she will be a virgin and can cure him. This is not true.
Having sex with a virgin only spreads HIV/AIDS to another person.
It will not make the person with HIV/AIDS healthy again.
Some time ago, I met a man who said
that if he had to sleep with a woman
outside marriage, it would be me. When
I asked him why, he frankly told me he
was sure I would not become pregnant
and that I was free of HIV!
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007