Beware of Bananas Injected with HIV Infected Blood-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Bananas purchased at Walmart and other stores in the U.S. have been injected with HIV blood.

The Truth:

Don’t worry about reports about bananas injected with HIV.

Reports of HIV bananas that were bought at supermarkets in the U.S. began popping up on social media sites in the fall of 2015. One such report claimed that a bunch of bananas purchased in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was injected with HIV infected blood. In another post, a writer claimed that she had purchased HIV-laced bananas at a Walmart in Aberdeen, Washington:

I bought a bundle of bananas from the Walmart in Aberdeen tonight and opened it to give my 2 yr old daughter. This is what I found on the inside! I opened the rest of the bundle and they appeared to be normal bananas. I’m not saying it’s blood but what else could it be!

Turns out that red spots in bananas could be a lot of things. Things like disease, fungus and insects have all been known to cause red spots in bananas. There have been no known cases of HIV being injected into bananas, however.

That claim is similar to a rumor that went viral in early 2015 that blood oranges from Libya are being injected with HIV blood (also false).

Even if these accounts were true, it would be nearly impossible to contract HIV from eating an orange that was injected with infected blood before it was shipped over a long distance. HIV is a living virus, and it needs a human host to survive, the non-profit group Aid for AIDS reports:

“HIV is a very fragile virus outside of the body. The HIV virus needs the human body as its host. The life span of HIV outside of the body has not been determined. However, we know that HIV needs its host cell (a human), the body temperature, and the chemistry of the blood to survive. Out of the body, HIV is out of its environment. As the blood dries, the HIV will die. In areas like a syringe or on a razor in a medicine cabinet, HIV would probably live longer because of less airflow and it’s a more moist temperature controlled area.

“Just remember, outside of the body HIV can’t survive. In minutes it will die and be harmless, but Universal Precautions should always be used.”

And, when it comes to bananas, studies have shown that they have high levels of a naturally occurring chemical called lectin that can actually help prevent the transmission of HIV:

The study showed a lectin called BanLec was as potent as two HIV drugs, T-20 and maraviroc, that are currently being used to treat HIV. Lectins are sugar-binding proteins found in plants that can identify and attach to foreign invaders, and subsequently blocks HIV’s entry into the body.

Michael E. Swanson, study author and doctoral student in the graduate program in immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School said “The problem with some HIV drugs is that the virus can mutate and become resistant, but that’s much harder to do in the presence of lectins.”

So, not only does HIV not survive long enough outside the human body to transmit the virus via fruit, bananas have a natural chemical that has actually been found to prevent the transmission of HIV. That means this rumor is a hoax.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 11/10/2015

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