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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher April 13, 2023

HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS, is contagious. A video’s claim that it’s not is Pants on Fire!

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  • HIV is spread through bodily fluids, primarily from unprotected sex or the sharing of drug-injection equipment such as needles.

A Facebook post included a video of a doctor injecting himself with what he said was blood infected with HIV.

HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS, a potentially fatal disease that weakens the immune system.

"He wanted to prove that the HIV virus was not contagious," text imposed over the excerpts read. "He never tested positive."

The post itself said: "The greatest lie ever told?"

The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

HIV is contagious. In the U.S., an estimated 1.2 million people had HIV at the end of 2019, according to the most recent federal data. 

HIV is passed by bodily fluids, primarily through unprotected sex and sharing of drug injection equipment such as needles.

The late Dr. Robert Willner, a Florida physician who believed that HIV does not cause AIDS, did the injection demonstration in 1994 during an alternative medicine meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, The Washington Post reported at the time.

The demonstration is shown in posts online

Willner stuck a hypodermic needle into a finger of a man who Willner said was HIV-positive, then stuck the needle into his own finger.

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During the demonstration, Willner called Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top federal health officials criminals. 

Fauci was director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases until December 2022. He played key roles in the public health response to AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) spreads primarily through bodily fluids, including semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk. The majority of transmission cases occur during unprotected sex or from sharing needles or other drug injection equipment. 

HIV attacks and destroys white blood cells in the blood. These cells are part of the immune system and normally defend the human body against disease and infection.

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the most severe stage of HIV infection. 

Most people with HIV do not get AIDS, according to the federal health website

AIDS was first recognized as a new disease in 1981 when increasing numbers of young, gay men succumbed to unusual opportunistic infections and rare malignancies. 

More than 700,000 U.S. residents have died from HIV-related illness.

HIV-related mortality rates rose steadily through the 1980s and peaked in 1995. With improved treatments, the death rate has dropped in half since  2009, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Without HIV treatment, people with AIDS typically survive about three years, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The claim that HIV is not contagious is false and ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Facebook, post (archived), April 3, 2023

USA Today, "Research proves HIV is the cause of AIDS, contrary to viral claim," posted Jan. 6, 2023; updated Jan. 10, 2023

PolitiFact, "HIV/AIDS: A PolitiFact sheet," July 7, 2016 

Washington Post, "And Now For Something Completely Different," Nov. 1, 1994

YouTube, Question Everything post (40:30), March 25, 2011

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "HIV Basics," Dec. 1, 2022, "How Is HIV Transmitted?", June 16, 2022

Kaiser Family Foundation, "The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States: The Basics," June 07, 2021

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HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS, is contagious. A video’s claim that it’s not is Pants on Fire!

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