A Class 10 Biology textbook of the Kerala State Syllabus asks, "What are the ways by which HIV spreads?" A page from the textbook states that one way is "through premarital/extramarital sexual contact.”
Yes, a Class 10 Biology textbook states that having sex before marriage or with a partner outside of marriage is one of the ways through which HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can be transmitted.
Dr Veena from Thiruvananthapuram and later Dr Arun, a practitioner of General Medicine from Kerala’s Palakkad district, posted the photo of the page in question on Monday. The page describes four ways through which HIV can be transmitted: “by sharing the needle and syringe used by AIDS patients,” “through body fluids,” “from HIV infected mother to foetus” and “through premarital/extramarital sexual contact.”
“How does the virus know whether the couple is married or not?” Dr Arun asks. He says that instead of this, they should have put it as “unprotected sex” or “unprotected sex with an infected partner.”
The portion about the HIV transmission falls on page number 60 of the 2016 edition of the Class 10 biology textbook published by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT).
TNM reached out to Nishi, the research officer of the SCERT who said, “we have identified the mistake and have taken measures to make the necessary changes in the upcoming academic year which begins from June 2019 onwards.” She also said that although it is given in such a way in the textbooks, the students were not taught that way.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, if left untreated. HIV attacks the body's immune system, specially T cells. These cells are a central component of the immune system and are critical for directly controlling infections as well as activating other cells of the immune system. HIV is most commonly transmitted through vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV or through sharing needles or syringes with someone who has HIV. In addition, only certain kinds of body fluid can transmit HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk.
But misconceptions around HIV are rampant. You can't get HIV through mosquito bites, ticks or other blood-sucking insects, through saliva, sweat or tears, through hugging, shaking hands or sharing personal spaces or objects, like bathrooms, food or cooking utensils.