NEWS

HIV chocolate story is FAKE NEWS, confirms UNAIDS country director

Falsehoods spread like wildfire on social media, getting quicker and longer-lasting pickup than the truth. Recently, a social media post featuring a man under arrest and being escorted by Police
15 Mar 2018 10:00
HIV chocolate story is FAKE NEWS,  confirms UNAIDS country director
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) country director Renata Ram.

Falsehoods spread like wildfire on social media, getting quicker and longer-lasting pickup than the truth.

Recently, a social media post featuring a man under arrest and being escorted by Police because he allegedly contaminated chocolate products with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) affected blood has been widely circulated.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) country director Renata Ram said the posting requested people to avoid consuming the chocolate products for some weeks because of the alleged contamination.

“The postings make reference to a respected media source is an apparent attempt to establish the story’s credibility,” she said.

“UNAIDS has made clear that it is not possible to contaminate a manufactured product such as chocolate with blood from a person living with HIV.”

Ms Rama highlighted the importance of verifying information before you share it on social media.

“Everyone wants to be a reporter and be the first to share news on social media. But with great power comes great responsibility“Fake news such as the stories circulating on social media causes pointless panic and confusion, it’s always best to verify your sources from respective organisations before you post.

“Social media is not bad, but we need to be very responsible.”

UNAIDS encourages everyone to be more responsible when sharing content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as they are powerful tools for information sharing, she says.

The hoax post shared on social media

The hoax post shared on social media

About HIV

Ms Ram said: “HIV virus cannot live outside of the human body and can only be transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions from infected individuals to an uninfected person.

“Individuals cannot become infected through ordinary day-to-day contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food, or water.”

She added that the best and easiest way to take control over your own health is to know your HIV status.

“It is important that we have the correct information on the spread of any disease.

“To prevent contracting HIV, it is simply through using condoms during sex, not sharing used needles, as well as reducing blood to blood contamination,” Ms Ram said.

HIV Decree

The 2011 HIV/AIDS decree states that treatment is to be made available to all people living with HIV in the country.

In Fiji, Ms Ram said testing was free of charge and was available through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services at the Reproductive Health Clinics located in the Central, Western and Northern divisions.

“The testing at these clinics is confidential, and private hospitals and medical centres also offer confidential HIV testing at minimal cost.

While a cure for HIV is not presently available, a person may receive treatment to reduce the level of virus in the bloodstream.

“This treatment helps keep the immune system strong and a person living with HIV and remaining adherent to treatment can live a long and healthy life,” she said.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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