A shocking 1 in 10 gay and bisexual men think you can catch HIV from kissing, survey finds

A couple kiss as they take part in a "Regenbogenparade" (Rainbow Parade) with thousands of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals, to ask the Austrian government for equal rights for gay relationships on July 4, 2009, in Vienna. (Getty)

One in 10 gay and bisexual men believe you can catch HIV from kissing, a recent survey has found.

A startling 30% of gay and bi men also believe you can contract the disease by sharing toothbrushes, according to a recent survey by The Terrence Higgins Trust.

The YouGov survey asked 2,000 adults in the UK, including 118 gay and bisexual men, about the HIV virus.

The results show damaging myths and inaccuracies about the disease are still prevalent, with Terrence Higgins Trust warning that public perceptions are ‘mirroring those seen in the 1980s.’

The HIV virus cannot survive outside the body and therefore cannot be passed on via toothbrush, saliva or skin-to-skin contact.

Only 45% of the gay and bi men surveyed knew that HIV+ people can have sex without passing on the virus if they are taking effective medication. Only one in four believed that there was an HIV epidemic in the UK.

World AIDS Day

Uploaded by Terrence Higgins Trust on 2016-12-01.

Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We’ve come a long way since the AIDS crisis first emerged, when the nation was gripped by panic and fear.

“Thankfully, we now know far more about how HIV is and is not transmitted, and medical advances now mean HIV doesn’t have to stand in the way of living a long and healthy life.

“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.

“Misunderstanding of the virus can fuel stigma and cause immense distress for people coming to terms with an HIV diagnosis. Much more needs to be done to bring the British public up to date with what HIV means in 2016.”

Public Health England estimates that there are 101,200 people living with HIV in the UK, of which 13,500 are undiagnosed.

Of the 6,095 people diagnosed with HIV in 2015, 39% were diagnosed in the later stages of infection. Late diagnosis leads to poorer health outcomes, as the immune system has already been damaged by the virus.