Friday, July 25, 2008

Hoax eMail In Singapore - Boy Gets Aids From Take Away Food

Of all the spam and hoax emails I've received in my lifetime, from the phishing attempts to access by bank account details even to death threats asking to pay off the hit-man to turn the tide on the contract purchaser, this latest hoax e-mail that has been making the rounds in Singapore really takes the cake (or burger).

The email, which claims that a 10-year-old boy had contracted Aids after eating take-away food contaminated with HIV-infected blood, is entirely false.

According to the clinical director of the Communicable Disease Centre, Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin, the e-mail shows "a lack of understanding of HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus."

The human immunodeficiency virus is the virus that causes Aids (acquired immune deficiency syndrome.)

Apparently, there are at least three variations of the e-mail that is circulating in Singapore: the first version claims that the HIV-tainted blood was found in a burger; the second claims it was found in panipuri (a popular Indian street snack); and the third version is that it was found in cut pineapple.

The email goes on to say that the boy in question fell sick around 15 days after eating the take-away food. Then, upon visiting a doctor to assess his ilness, he was supposedly diagnosed with Aids.

Actually, it is physically impossible to determine if a person has contracted Aids after being infected with HIV just 15 days earlier.

According to Prof Leo Yee Sin, "Aids is the advanced stage of an HIV infection and it generally takes years from the time of infection to progress to the advanced stage."

Prof Leo continued that "while the virus can be found in the blood of an infected person, there is no scientific evidence that the virus can be transmitted through food... HIV does not survive for long outside an infected person's body. It has never been proven that the virus can be transmitted through day-to-day activities without direct contact of body fluids... or from the environment such as drinking glasses or food."

Prof Leo's professional statements are in opposition to the hoax email, that also goes on to claim that after follow-up by the hospital, it was determined that the cook who had prepared the food had cut his finger, and then his infected blood had spread into the food. Also it claims that the cook didn't know that he had Aids.

The infamous website, "Hoax-Slayer" made the following statement about this latest hoax email: "Such stories serve no purpose other than to spread unnecessary fear and alarm and add to the many damaging misconceptions surrounding HIV and Aids. Bogus warnings such as this should not be passed on to others."

According to Action for Aids (Singapore), around 30 per cent of patients develop Aids five years after they are infected, and 50 per cent develop Aids within eight to 10 years. Others may take even longer.

What will the next hoax email bring us I wonder??

No comments: