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Recurring conspiracy theory claims COVID-19 vaccines infect users with HIV

Claim: A viral WhatsApp message and image links HIV to COVID-19 and smallpox vaccines

Our findings show these claims are baseless and are, therefore, false. 

Full Text

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the white blood cells called CD4. 

It can be transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids, and causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

HIV continues to be a major global public health concern as it has claimed more than 35 million lives.

Recently, a viral WhatsApp message claims the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has admitted to HIV being part of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“The BBC has now admitted that the HIV was in some of the Covid vaccines,” part of the message read. 

The message which contains a link suggests this is the reason countries are reporting a rise in HIV infection. 

Screenshot of the WhatsApp message. 

Another viral image alleged that The Times report claimed the WHO injected Africans with over 50 million smallpox vaccines in 1987 which triggered AIDS. 

Screenshot of the viral Image. 

Seeing how fast this information has spread and based on requests for verification, DUBAWA decided to verify these claims. 


Claim 1: COVID-19 vaccines contain the HIV

The link contained in this WhatsApp message led to a website, praguetruth.cz  which contained the same claim referencing an article published in the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) in 2020.

Screenshot of the report by Prague Truth. 

Going through the article on AJMC, we discovered the original story on HIV and Adenovirus type-5 vaccine COVID-19 vaccine has been updated. 

This new update showed that all authorised vaccines are safe and effective. 

Screenshot of the article on AJMC. 

Full Fact also clarified that the potential vaccine with HIV protein (the basis for the original version of this report) was never rolled out. 

To ascertain if there are reported new cases of HIV, DUBAWA conducted a keyword search. We found no news report on a surge in cases of HIV. 

A website (hiv.gov) that provides timely and relevant federal HIV policies, programs and resources in the United States (US) reveals an estimated 1.5 million individuals worldwide acquired HIV in 2021. According to their data, this number marked a 32% decline in new HIV infections since 2010 contrary to the claim on surges in HIV. 

We also found that this claim and similar ones which have been debunked by Reuters here and here originated from this BBC report that highlighted how an Australian vaccine was abandoned over a false HIV response. 

Viral Facts Africa in its videos here and here have also dismissed claims linking the COVID-19 vaccine and HIV.

The Infomedic Manager for the WHO Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA), Sergio Cecchini, dismissed this claim as false.  

“The claim that HIV virus was included in COVID-19 vaccines is false. There have been several rumours including that COVID-19 vaccines were causing HIV infections.”

Claim 2: smallpox vaccine by WHO caused a wave of AIDS infection. 

Our research shows there is no link between AIDS infection and the Smallpox vaccine. We also found a fact-check by Full Fact also debunking this. 

Mr Sergio of the WHO alliance also said this claim is old and has been debunked, making reference to the verification by Full Fact highlighted above. 

“This very old false claim about WHO infecting 50M people has been deeply debunked by FullFact here”. 


Our findings show these claims are baseless and therefore false. 

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