A popular rumor about oranges or bananas from outside the United States being injected with HIV- or AIDS-contaminated blood seems to circulate endlessly on social media despite having no basis in reality.
This seems to be a spin on the popular (and completely unfounded) “foreigners carry diseases” myth that seems to be part of any immigration backlash.
A similar version of the eRumor reports that canned fruit was found to be contaminated with HIV-positive blood.
Various reports of HIV-positive blood being found in oranges and canned fruit have persisted for years, but there’s no truth to these claims.
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 nonprofit 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.”
Social media has lit up with reports that oranges exported from Libya were injected with blood that tested positive for HIV or AIDS. The posts show photos of halved oranges with red coloration inside similar to blood. A caption reads:
“The immigration services of Algeria recovered a large quantity of these oranges coming from Libya. These oranges were injected with positive tested HIV and AIDS blood.”
The publication Yemen Now used the same photos and reported that the oranges had been injected with hepatitis B and HIV-positive blood. In that version, the oranges were shipped from Egypt into neighboring countries. A translated photo caption reads:
Where did the meanness and hostility against Arabs and Muslims by the Zionists and their agents (come from?)
In reality, the oranges in the pictures weren’t injected with HIV, AIDS or hepatitis B-positive blood. The photos likely show the inside of an unripe blood orange, or the inside of a blood orange hybrid (no real blood included.)
Another variation of the eRumor claims that HIV-positive blood was found inside canned fruit from Thailand, which is also untrue. The Thai government responded directly to the claim and said it was false.
This rumor continues to be false regardless which country is named.