Circulating warning messages claim that people are injecting HIV infected blood into bananas so you should not eat bananas that contain a red colour inside. One recent version, which is presented as a ‘breaking news’ report from CNN, claims that bananas in an Oklahoma Walmart store have tested positive for HIV.
The claims in the messages are untrue. The messages are just absurd hoaxes with no basis in fact. Sharing these nonsensical warnings will help nobody.
According to would be warning messages that are circulating via social media and various fake-news reports, people are injecting HIV infected blood into bananas so you should not eat bananas that contain a red colour inside. In one version, health authorities have supposedly discovered that about one million bananas originating from Guatemala have been contaminated with the HIV infected blood.
The original messages are in Spanish. However, there are also some English versions that have been poorly translated from the original Spanish. Some of the messages include an image supposedly depicting blood being injected into a banana.
However, the messages are just absurd hoaxes. There are no credible news or health authority reports that confirm the claims in the messages in any way. If such a major contamination problem were true, news outlets all around the world would have covered it extensively. And, of course, there would be official government health warnings for people in potentially affected regions.
A more recent version, which is presented as a ‘breaking news’ report from CNN, claims that bananas in an Oklahoma Walmart store have tested positive for HIV. The message features a photograph of a banana with a red discolouration on one end. But, this version is also false. The false report comes from a fake-news website, which, despite the name and logo, is in no way associated with CNN.
And, in any case, the claims have no scientific credibility whatsoever. HIV does not live for long outside of the body. Both exposure to air and stomach acids kill the virus. Therefore, even if bananas had been injected with blood from a person who is HIV positive, there is virtually no chance that a person who later ate one of the bananas would become infected.
In an article about HIV transmission, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes:
You can’t get HIV from consuming food handled by an HIV-infected person. Even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus.
Though it is very rare, HIV can be spread by eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-infected person. The contamination occurs when infected blood from a caregiver’s mouth mixes with food while chewing. The only known cases are among infants.
The bogus warning is just an updated version of an earlier and equally nonsensical warning that falsely claimed that oranges from Libya were being injected with HIV infected blood. In fact, there have been a number of Internet hoaxes that have claimed that various types of food and beverages have been deliberately contaminated with HIV.
Sharing such nonsense does nothing other than spread fear and alarm and add to the many myths and misconceptions about AIDS and HIV. If you receive one of these bogus warning messages, do not share it with others. And ensure that you let the original poster know that the claims in the message are untrue.
Last updated: May 3, 2016
First published: February 11, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen