Another day, another fear-mongering rumor that unfairly targets both people living with HIV and well-meaning people who often spread fake news without researching it.
According to a post on social media, the British company Anchor Butter employed a man who added his HIV-infected blood to the product he helped produce for shipment.
“These (sic) guy added HIV infected blood in the Anchor Butter production in Westbury Dairy U.K.,” reads the post that’s typically accompanied by a man in handcuffs being led away by police, adding that people shouldn’t buy the product and it’s legit because they saw it on the BBC.
Sound familiar? It should: It’s almost identical to the rumor that claimed the British candy company Cadbury employed a man who added his HIV-infected blood to chocolate bars and creme eggs.
Is Anchor Butter safe?
That rumor wasn’t true — and neither is this one. Yes, it's safe to eat Anchor Butter.
“Please be assured this is a hoax in very poor taste,” a rep for the Westbury Dairies, Arla Foods UK, said in a statement, according to Snopes. Westbury Dairies is the company that produces Anchor Butter.
Can you get HIV from food?
The truth is that while HIV is spread through bodily fluids, you can’t get it by simply touching or kissing another person. According to the Centers For Disease Control, HIV is spread through blood, semen, breast milk and rectal and vaginal fluids — but only if it comes into contact with damaged tissue or a mucous membrane (like those found in the vagina and anus). It can also come from sharing needles.
However, HIV is not likely to be transmitted even through oral sex or deep kissing, unless the infected person’s semen or vaginal fluids come into contact with oral ulcers, bleeding gums or genital sores — and even then the chances are pretty low, according to the CDC.
And it also won’t pose harm to your food if it’s prepared by an HIV-positive person.
“Even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking and stomach acid would destroy the virus,” the CDC writes on its website.
So, where did the rumor start? It’s a variation of an old hoax that pops back up every so often with different foods or product names attached — Anchor Butter, Cadbury, Pepsi and even pineapple.
The photo used in the hoax is apparently from an article in London’s Evening Standard about police raids around London.
So be sure to set the record straight if you see your grandma or Aunt Judy spreading the rumor on Facebook — kindly, of course.