FIT WebQoof: Can Food Containing HIV-Infected Blood Cause AIDS?

Is it possible to get AIDS by consuming food contaminated by HIV-infected blood? Experts answer.

Updated01 Dec 2019, 02:34 AM IST
Fit-WebQoof
2 min read
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(World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st every year. With more than 21 million patients, India has the third-highest burden of the disease after South Africa and Nigeria. FIT is reposting this story in that light.)

The Claim

A WhatsApp forward claims that a 10-year-old child fell sick fifteen days after eating pineapple, sold from a vendor who had cut the fruit with a bleeding finger. The vendor was later tested to be HIV-positive.

FIT WebQoof: Can Food Containing HIV-Infected Blood Cause AIDS?
(Screenshot Courtesy: WhatsApp)

Is This Possible?

Dr Ashwani Setya, senior gastroenterologist at Max Hospital, says that theoretically, contaminated food (even if it has been in contact with an HIV-positive person’s blood or any other body fluid) is not likely to cause the infection to the one who eats it.

Assuming that any such food (with traces of HIV infected blood) was eaten, the virus is too weak to survive against the acid in the stomach. In fact, it can get destroyed by mere exposure to air. 
Dr Ashwani Setya

It may only happen - even here the possibility is meagre - when there is a wound inside the person’s mouth and the fresh infected blood comes in contact with it. But again, the human immunodeficiency virus is so weak that under the circumstances mentioned in the message, it is nearly impossible to have have survived and transmitted; especially when the fruit had been exposed to air for long before.

For instance, hepatitis B infection can happen this way because the virus is very powerful.
Dr Ashwani Setya

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “You can’t get HIV from consuming food handled by someone with HIV. 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.”

In that case, the child getting infected because of the pineapple does not seem like a plausible explanation.

However, it is true that food sold outside by vendors may be unhygienic, especially because of flies and mosquitoes that may sit on it. This may increase risk of typhoid, diarrhea and other infections.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9910181818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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Published: 29 May 2019, 08:32 AM IST
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