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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman December 15, 2021

No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not cause AIDS

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  • Medical experts say the COVID-19 vaccines do not make people more susceptible to HIV or AIDS and that the shots don’t weaken the immune system. They bolster it.

Ever since the COVID-19 vaccines were introduced in late 2020, people have falsely claimed that they cause all sorts of health problems, ranging from Alzheimer's disease to autoimmune disorders.

Claims circulating online recently add AIDS to that list.

"The AIDS hysteria of the 80s has been totally forgotten," one post shared on Facebook reads. "It's been eclipsed by current C0\/lD insanity in which millions are running to inject themselves with an experimental product that causes AIDS (!!)"

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) The post uses a misspelling of COVID, using numerals and slashes, a tactic social media users employ to circumvent tools that help detect COVID-related misinformation online.

The AIDS claim is bogus. AIDS is an immune disease caused by human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. The COVID-19 shots do not introduce HIV into the body or cause AIDS. 

HIV attacks the body’s immune system and can lead to AIDS if left untreated. AIDS is considered the most severe phase of HIV infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Data from clinical trials do not show that the COVID-19 vaccines create any increased risk for AIDS, nor is there evidence that those infected with HIV are more likely to develop AIDS after receiving one of the vaccines. Real world data from the billions of COVID-19 vaccinations around the world also haven’t shown that the vaccinated are more likely to get AIDS than the unvaccinated.

Medical experts confirmed with PolitiFact that there is no relationship between the COVID-19 vaccines and AIDS.

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"AIDS has only one cause, HIV," said Michael Imperiale, a professor in the microbiology and immunology department at the University of Michigan. "This is because HIV replication destroys the immune system. This is why HIV-infected people are given antiviral drugs, to prevent them from getting AIDS."

Since the vaccines don’t contain HIV, there is "no way" any COVID-19 vaccine can cause HIV infection or AIDS, said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease expert and professor specializing in HIV research at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

"The COVID-19 vaccines do not cause immunosuppression — a decline in immune function leaving a person vulnerable to opportunistic infections," Wohl added. "In fact, the COVID-19 vaccines spur immune function to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection."

Research from the CDC and others show that the vaccines boost the body’s immune response. For example, one Aug. 13 CDC report found that people who had been infected with COVID-19 in 2020 got a dramatic boost in virus-killing immune cells later because they were vaccinated.

"Vaccines stimulate the immune system," Imperiale said. "They do not destroy it."

Our ruling

A Facebook post claims that the COVID-19 vaccines cause AIDS.

There is no evidence to support this. Only HIV causes AIDS, and the vaccines don’t contain HIV.

Medical experts say the vaccines do not make people more susceptible to HIV or AIDS and that the shots bolster the immune system. They don’t weaken it.

We rate this Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Facebook post, Dec. 14, 2021

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, About HIV, Last updated June 1, 2021

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reduced Risk of Reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 After COVID-19 Vaccination — Kentucky, May–June 2021, Aug. 13, 2021 

PolitiFact, No evidence that COVID-19 vaccines weaken the immune system, Oct. 7, 2021 

PolitiFact, Claim that COVID-19 vaccinated in UK are developing immunity problems is false, Nov. 8, 2021 

PolitiFact, People are using coded language to avoid social media moderation. Is it working?, Nov. 4, 2021 

Associated Press, No, COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause HIV, AIDS or cancer, Nov. 2, 2021 

Email interview, Dr. David Wohl, professor of medicine in the infectious diseases division and site leader at the HIV Prevention and Treatment Clinical Trials Unit at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Dec. 15, 2021

Email interview, Michael Imperiale, professor in the microbiology and immunology department at the University of Michigan, Dec. 15, 2021

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No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not cause AIDS

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