NOV 28, 2015 11:27 AM PST

HIV/AIDS: Facts vs. Myths

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Charlie Sheen, 50, recently divulged on national television that he is HIV positive. Along with personal recounts of his sexual activities, Sheen disclosed that he's been paying people in the sum of millions to keep his diagnosis a secret.

HIV is a Human Immunodeficiency Virus that gradually attacks the body's immune system. Transmitted through infected bodily fluids like blood or semen, the virus enters the bloodstream and targets the host's helper T cells, a specialized type of white blood cells. Because it is a retrovirus, HIV can hijack the host's replication machinery to make more of copies of itself. It's estimated that the virus can make up to 10 billion new virons every day. No cure or vaccines have been developed for HIV, and millions of people worldwide live with this condition.

But though HIV positive, Sheen and his doctor say that he does not have AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome. This is because of antiretroviral medications that suppress the virus' ability to multiply and insert itself in the host's genome. Because of intervention, his viral count is under control and his immune system is still able to fight off infections.

With continued therapy and safe practices, the risk for transmission is low. But there is an undeniable stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, which hopefully can be lessened with more awareness and understanding of this disease.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 04, 2020
Earth & The Environment
COVID-19 Lockdown Leads to Decreases in Outdoor Air Pollution, but Increases in Indoor Air Pollution
JUN 04, 2020
COVID-19 Lockdown Leads to Decreases in Outdoor Air Pollution, but Increases in Indoor Air Pollution
With most of North America sheltering in place to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, it’s not surprising that ...
JUN 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
Desperate Polar Bear Mother Weighs Risks of Attacking Dangerous Walruses
JUN 16, 2020
Desperate Polar Bear Mother Weighs Risks of Attacking Dangerous Walruses
Polar bears are being subjected to severe living conditions as the Arctic’s ice caps continue to melt, and without ...
JUL 07, 2020
Neuroscience
How Blindsight Helps Us Explain Consciousness
JUL 07, 2020
How Blindsight Helps Us Explain Consciousness
Blindsight is the phenomenon in which blind people can interact with their environments even though they can't see i ...
JUL 13, 2020
Neuroscience
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
JUL 13, 2020
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
Researchers from the Lincoln Laboratory have found early evidence that subtle changes in peoples' voices may indicat ...
AUG 10, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Researchers Debunk Cannabis Growing Myths
AUG 10, 2020
Researchers Debunk Cannabis Growing Myths
Researchers at Utah State University grew cannabis to study until the Controlled Substances Act came into force in 1970. ...
AUG 11, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
High THC Cannabis Linked to Anxiety
AUG 11, 2020
High THC Cannabis Linked to Anxiety
Researchers have found that people who use strains of cannabis high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive comp ...
Loading Comments...