Can You Catch AIDS From a Pineapple? (Answer: No)

A 10-year-old boy allegedly contracted AIDS after eating pineapple

10 Year Old Boy Caught AIDS From Eating Pineapple
Via Facebook

Netlore Archive: Online rumor claims a 10-year-old boy was diagnosed with AIDS after eating pineapple contaminated by a vendor with HIV.

Description: Online rumor / Hoax
Circulating since: 2005
Status: False (see details below)

Example #1:
As shared on Facebook, March 11, 2014:

A 10 year old boy, had eaten pineapple about 15 days back, and fell sick, from the day he had eaten. Later when he had his Health check done...... doctors diagnosed that he had AIDS. His parents couldn't believe it...Then the entire family under went a checkup... none of them suffered from Aids. So the doctors checked again with the boy if he had eaten out.....The boy said 'Yes'. He had pineapple that evening. Immediately a group from the hospital went to the pineapple vendor to check. They found the pineapple seller had a cut on his finger while cutting the pineapple; his blood had spread into the fruit. When they had his blood checked...the guy was suffering from AIDS...but he himself was NOT aware. Unfortunately the boy is now suffering from it. Please take care while u eat on the road side and pls forward this message to your dear one's.. Take Care Please Forward This message To All The Persons You Know As Your Message May Save One's Life !!!!!


Example #2:
Forwarded email contributed by a reader, June 12, 2006:

Good to know. AIDS spreads like this also.....

A 10 year old boy, had eaten pineapple  about 15 days back, and fell sick, from the day he had eaten. Later when he had his Health check done... doctors diagnosed that he had AIDS. His parents couldn't believe it...Then the entire family under went a Checkup... none of them suffered from Aids. So the doctors checked again with the boy if he had eaten out...The boy said "yes". He had pineapple that evening.Immediately a group from Mallya hospital went to the pineapple vendor to check. They found the pineapple seller had a cut on his finger while cutting the pineapple , his blood had spread into the fruit. When they had his blood checked...the guy was suffering from AIDS ..... but he himself was NOT aware. Unfortunately the boy is suffering from it now.

Please take care while u eat on the road side. and pls fwd this mail to your dear one.


Analysis: These scary viral alerts are based on a common myth about HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), namely that it can be spread via contaminated food or drink. Not so, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus can't survive long outside the human body, so you can't catch AIDS by eating food handled by an infected person — "even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen," says the CDC.

HIV is destroyed by exposure to air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid. In short, AIDS is not a food-borne illness.

Even if it were a food-borne illness, there would still be cause for skepticism about this story. It's claimed that the 10-year-old patient in the story "fell sick" with AIDS just 15 days after consuming pineapple tainted by the blood of an HIV-positive vendor. It normally takes months or years for AIDS symptoms to appear.

The list of foods and beverages supposedly contaminated by HIV-infected workers keeps growing, regardless. To date, the list include: ketchup, tomato sauce, Pepsi-Cola, Frooti drinks, and take-out shawarmas.

Though all these warnings are fictional and there's no real danger of getting AIDS by consuming these products, it's still probably a good idea to be careful in general what you eat from roadside stands.

It's an equally good idea to be careful what you believe on the Internet.

Sources and further reading:

HIV Basics: HIV Transmission
CDC, 12 February 2014

Fresh HIV Blood in Foods / Drinks Risk
AIDS Vancouver, 29 August 2012

Can HIV Survive on a Fruit?
Health24.com, 28 July 2008

Doctors Trash Emails That Warn Against Eating Shawarmas
Gulf News, 3 June 2005

Last updated 07/04/15