VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Website misleads by using HIV-positive woman's photo

A story from that published the photo of a woman it claimed died after acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from a manicure is misleading.

The photo, actually that of a Burmese woman, was grabbed from a CNN 2011 report, which made no mention of a manicure as the cause of the infection, and eventual death.

The story resembles the case of a 22-year-old Brazilian subject who supposedly got the virus after borrowing the manicure equipment of an HIV-positive cousin 10 years prior, which was published in a 2014 medical journal.

The journal editor, HIV research scientist Brian Foley of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States, said HIV transmission via nail care tools was a “very rare event” and should not cause people to fear HIV or contact with HIV-positive people.

The World Health Organization told VERA Files, the risk of HIV transmission through manicure equipment is "almost nonexistent."

"HIV does not survive long outside the human body. As blood dries, the amount of virus decreases very quickly. HIV is also very vulnerable to heat, acidity and sunlight. In addition, an infection will only occur if a certain amount of the virus reaches the target cells through a damaged tissue of another person. This makes transmission of HIV through surfaces or objects extremely unlikely," it added.

The story, which first appeared on social media on April 13, 2017, was reshared on social media on April 10, the United States’ National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. The website was created in 2016, and the story's source,, leads to a broken link.

The biggest traffic on social media generators: Pasaway News and Barangay ni Kapitan Tiyago.

Other sources:

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation.


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