One third of Britons think HIV can be caught by sharing toothbrushes, survey says

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Almost one-third of British adults think you can catch HIV by sharing a toothbrush with someone who is infected, a survey has suggested.

The YouGov study also shows one in 10 people believe the virus can be transmitted through sharing scissors at the hairdresser.

The findings come on World Aids Day and show "inaccurate myths from the 1980s are still deeply entrenched in society", leading sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust said.

(Dominic Steinmann/AP)
Stephen Fry is making the Worlds Aids Day campaign (Dominic Steinmann/AP)

A campaign, backed by Stephen Fry, has been launched by the charity to encourage people to wear red ribbons to raise awareness.

Fry said: "We saw our friends, lovers and families die and a generation of friends were lost and bright, beautiful lights were snuffed out before their time.

"As a community, we are still recovering from that awful time, but World Aids Day gives us all a chance to reflect and come together to celebrate the real progress that has been made."

(Niranjan Shrestha/AP)
The red ribbon is the universal sign of support (Niranjan Shrestha/AP)

The findings also show just over half (58%) of Britons believe people with HIV can live into old age.

Less than one-third (29%) know that those on effective treatment could have children without passing the virus on.

Terrence Higgins chief executive Ian Green said: "We've come a long way since the Aids crisis first emerged, when the nation was gripped by panic and fear.

"But it's not over - while science has moved on, we can see today that inaccurate myths from the 1980s are still deeply entrenched in society, both in terms of how HIV is transmitted, and what it's like to live with HIV."

South Korean students make a formation in the shape of the red ribbon ( Lee Jin-man/AP)
South Korean students make a formation in the shape of the red ribbon ( Lee Jin-man/AP)

Around 6,000 people were diagnosed in the UK last year, with some 90,000 living with the virus and accessing care, according to Public Health England.

Fry added: "I wear my red ribbon as a way of remembering all those we lost ...

"We must never forget, and never give up the fight against HIV."

The YouGov survey was carried out online in October and had a total sample size of 2,030 representative adults.