A social media post claiming that fish contaminated by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes the dreaded acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), has killed hundreds of people in Northern Mindanao is false and an old fake news being circulated anew.
In the past two weeks, thousands of Facebook users shared the false information, some believing it to be true.
The fake news stated:
“Te pahibalo ang tanan bawal sa ta makaun isda karun kay ang dagat gilabayan ug tube sa hospital nga gikan sa mga h.i.v daghan na kaau nangamatay diri cdo 372 iligan 24 gingoog 18 valencia 18 maramag 18 opol 11 mao na ang nangaigo sa ngkaun ug isda busa kamo ayaw sa mo kaun isda ipasa sa tanan para makabalo sila.”
(Translation: Sister, inform everyone not to eat fish because a hospital tube with HIV was thrown at the sea. Many people have already died here in CDO (Cagayan de Oro City) with 372, Iligan with 24, Gingoog with 18, Valencia with 18, Maramag with 18 and Opol with 11. They died after eating fish. Do not eat fish. Spread this so that others will know.)
The misinformation first surfaced on social media in January 2019 or two years ago.
Teodoro Bacolod, Jr., acting director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – Region 10 (BAFR-10), issued a public advisory then describing it as fake news.
“This is to assure the consuming public that all fishery products coming in and out of the region have been duly monitored and inspected by our BFAR-10 Inspection and Quarantine Services personnel to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public,” Bacolod said.
“Moreover, the spread of HIV is not possible by consuming fishes or fishery products. HIV can only be transferred from one person to another – either by engaging in unprotected sex, blood transmission, use of infected needles and breastfeeding,” he added.
The Department of Health – Region 10 (DOH-10) also belied then that HIV can infect fishes, which if eaten by humans could cause deaths.
Since January 1, 2023, there have been no media reports from Northern Mindanao that people have died because of eating “HIV-infected” fishes or fishery products.
The BFAR-10 and DOH-10 also have no reports of people dying from eating fishes supposedly infected with HIV.
As with all our other reports, MindaNews welcomes leads or suggestions from the public to potential fact-check stories. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)