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Common myths about HIV

We explain common myths and facts about HIV, particularly how it affects the immune system, how it can be prevented and treated, and how to get tested. There are also links to other useful information and resources about the disease.

 No, HIV is not transmitted through casual contact such as hugs or handshakes. It’s surprising that some people still believe in this myth.

Individuals living with HIV can lead fulfilling lives and have healthy children, thanks to specialized treatment — antiretroviral therapy (ART).


Patients taking this medication pose no risk to their sexual partners. The government ensures that HIV-positive Ukrainians have access to this treatment. Consequently, knowing your HIV status is important; timely medication can prevent the spread of the virus.

According to estimates from the Public Health Centre, as of January 1, 2023, approximately 257,000 people in Ukraine are living with HIV. Only 79% are aware of their status, and a mere 77% receive ART. Almost half of those diagnosed with HIV (43%) discover their status at advanced stages.

HIV is NOT transmitted: 

through airborne droplets (sneezing, coughing, talking), 

through physical contact like hugs, handshakes, or kisses, 

by sharing household items (dishes, bed linen, towels), 

through insect bites or contact with animals.

In Ukraine, HIV testing is voluntary, free, confidential, and, if preferred, anonymous. The protection of your status from disclosure to third parties is an inviolable right. Under no circumstances will a person living with HIV be forced into treatment based solely on test results.

Where to get tested? 

 You can select the nearest testing centre or order a test to be conducted in your home. 


Always ensure the use of condoms during sexual intercourse, be it vaginal, anal, or oral, especially when the HIV status of your partner is unknown.

Always use only sterile needles, syringes, and tools for manicures, piercings, and tattoos.

What is HIV? 

HIV is a chronic disease resulting from the human immunodeficiency virus, which undermines the immune system and disrupts the body’s defenses, rendering the body susceptible to various infections and diseases over time.

How does it operate in the body? 

When foreign bodies enter a healthy body, the immune defense functions kick in. T-lymphocytes, the first responders, identify the intrusion and relay information to B-lymphocytes. These B-lymphocytes then produce antibodies to combat the foreign antigens.  

However, HIV targets T-lymphocytes, specifically CD4 cells. The human immune system is unaware of the threat and how to react, and thus, remains defenseless against infections small logo

Where to find out more:

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