In Bulgaria (and not only here) AIDS is much more than a disease. AIDS can be a stigma. A deserved verdict. Leprosy. A disgrace. It is transmitted through the air. Through touch. Through mosquitoes. And in fact, AIDS is none of these things. AIDS is acquired immune deficiency syndrome which one can acquire after becoming infected with HIV. HIV, in turn, is the virus of human immune deficiency which is transmitted through sexual contact and blood, as well as from a mother to her baby. That’s it.
Nobody can be infected with the virus through simply being in the same room with an HIV-positive person, or talking to them, a handshake, eating from the same plate, drinking from the same glass, sleeping in the same bed, or hugging them. At the same time HIV is not ‘reserved’ for prostitutes, homosexuals and drug addicts, as is the general idea. It can happen if you have had sex without a condom, if donated blood has been infected – in theory HIV can happen to anyone. The very difficult, and at the same time crucial, role of the media is to communicate all this clearly, because ignorance leads to fear. And fear – to stigma and discrimination. They in turn lead to social death. For HIV-positive people the social death can come a long time before the physical.