An alarmist claim that a particularly deadly new form of human papillomavirus virus (HPV) had developed that could spread through kissing continues to circulate online — years after originating from a “reader-submitted” post on a fringe blog.
The claim that this new strain — which allegedly killed people more quickly than the AIDS virus — first surfaced at the “Nation Newspaper” blog. Online registration records show that while the blog might have been based out of Nairobi, a website of the same name claimed mailing addresses in California.
According to the original post:
Students from Kisii University, Kenya and the general public at large have been warned against kissing carelessly due to an outbreak of Human papilloma virus, which has seen several people admitted at Kisii level 5 hospital after testing positive to the disease.
HPV is an infectious viral disease which cause mouth cancer and is transmitted through infected body fluids and that’s why people have been warned against kissing any how they want.
The symptoms include sore throat, severe headache, High fever, Vomit and abdominal pains.
As often happens, “reader-submitted” content is posted without vetting or editing for contet. This bit of disinformation was strengthened through the use of one legitimate element — in this case, an actual photograph taken from a public wellness blog showing the effects of infectious mononucleosis, also known colloquially as the “kissing disease.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised:
Most HPV infections go away on their own and don’t cause any health problems. However, if an infection does not go away, it is possible to develop HPV symptoms months or years after getting infected. This makes it hard to know exactly when you became infected. Lasting HPV infection can cause genital warts or certain kinds of cancer. It is not known why some people develop health problems from HPV and others do not.
But the idea that there was an HPV strain killing people “faster than AIDS” is false. The CDC also reported in November 2020 that deaths related to human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), the virus that produced AIDS, fell by 50 percent in the U.S. among people 13 years of age and older between 2010 and 2017.
Update 11/30/2021, 2:26pm PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. -ag