The Ministry of Health has dismissed as untrue a report, which is said to be circulating on WhatsApp, that a ten-year-old Barbadian boy was infected with HIV after eating pineapple purchased from an HIV-infected vendor.
According to the report, the vendor had a cut on his finger and blood was transferred to the fruit while he was cutting it, resulting in the child falling ill after ingesting the fruit.
In a statement today Senior Medical Officer Dr Anton Best said: “It is virtually impossible for the blood of an infected person to contaminate food and place someone at risk for HIV [and] it is highly unlikely for HIV to be transmitted via ingestion of any food item.”
Condemning the fake report, the health official said “it is laden with misunderstandings about how HIV may be acquired, and how the health system in Barbados works”.
Dr Best explained that newly infected HIV patients do not get sick immediately, as described in the story.
“Many people may experience a flu-like illness two to three weeks after infection, thus making the story even more preposterous,” he said.
“The Barbados healthcare system prides itself on confidentiality of medical information of patients. Thus, it is highly unlikely that such detailed patient information would be divulged from a credible source,” he added.
The Senior Medical Officer urged Barbadians to educate themselves about HIV and sexual transmitted infections, in particular how they could be contracted, how they could protect themselves from becoming infected and the treatment services available if diagnosed. Such information, he said, was readily available via the Ministry of Health’s Help Line at 467-9500.