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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Scared of unknowingly getting infected?

“A 10 year old boy, had eaten pineapple about 15 days back, and fell sick, from the day he had eaten. Later when he had his health check done... doctors diagnosed that he had AIDS. His parents couldn't believe it... Then the entire family underwent a check-up... none of them suffered from Aids. So the doctors checked again with the boy if he had eaten out...The boy said "yes". He had pineapple that evening. Immediately a group from Malaya Hospital went to the pineapple vendor to check. They found the pineapple seller had a cut on his finger while cutting the pineapple, his blood had spread into the fruit. When they had his blood checked...the guy was suffering from AIDS..... but he himself was NOT aware. Unfortunately the boy is suffering from it now. Please take care while you eat on the road side. Please forward this mail to your dear one.”

Have you ever received forwarded emails with contents of the above nature? If you have received such emails, have you ever forwarded them to anyone else?

Actually I saw the above posted in a blog, and this morning a blog reader forwarded the email to me. She suspected it was a hoax, but was not confident enough to reply to the forwarded email to say that it was indeed a hoax. So she sought my clarification before she dared reply to the sender and everyone else on the recipient’s list.

The above forwarded email has been in circulation for quite some time. And people kept on forwarding to all and sundry without checking its authenticity. Better to be safe than sorry, they say. I wonder… how come nobody asked about “Malaya Hospital”? Can anybody tell me where that is?

Other than this pineapple story, there is also another email about HIV infected needles being left on cinema seats on purpose so that those who sit on them will get infected. And oh… in vending machine coin returns too…

I usually concentrate on stories of HIV infected persons in this blog, touching more on the human aspect of it. My blog don’t usually touch detailed HIV facts. I don’t make it a habit to touch on the technical or medical aspects for fear of boring my readers to tears. Let the experts do that. Uh… no, I didn’t mean let the experts bore you to tears… I meant let them explain on the technical/medical aspect lah :)

I would like to make it an exception this time. While I’m still not going into too much detail, I would just like to touch a bit on the topic of HIV myths, which indirectly means I may have to include some facts as well. Well yeah, I can simply put the link here for you all to read for yourselves, but chances are many of you won’t do that. So let me just share with you some of the facts I got from the Malaysian AIDS Council website.

First, on the topic of getting infected through food, including pineapples, prepared or cut by infected persons.
If you have the slightest fear that the virus can spread this way, then your safest bet will be to not eat outside food. After all, how can you be so sure that the food you bought was not prepared by an infected person, huh?

The fact is - HIV is unable to survive outside its living host – humans. It does not spread or maintain its infectiousness outside its host. So, whether it is mixed in sauce or ketchup or pineapples, the virus will die. DON’T WORRY!

Next, on the topic of HIV spreading through needles being left on cinema seats or vending machine coin returns.

Think about it. How small is a needle head? And how much blood can be found on a needle head? The logic (and fact) behind infection through needles is when it is used together with a syringe. When you inject drugs or tattoo or pierce, some of your blood gets drawn into the syringe. And when another person reuses the same syringe and needle, the contaminated blood gets straight into this other person’s blood stream.

For HIV infection to occur, a great amount of HIV concentration needs to be directly allowed access into your body. When exposed to air, the virus weakens and dies – all within a time frame of 2 minutes!

Some of you may ask: what about mosquito bites?
Whoa… if HIV could spread through mosquito bites, imagine how many more people would be infected by now!

When an insect bites a person, it does not inject its own or a previous victim's blood into the new victim. Rather, it injects saliva. Such diseases as yellow fever and malaria are transmitted through the saliva of specific species of mosquitoes. However, unlike organisms that are transmitted via insect bites, HIV does not reproduce (and, therefore, cannot survive) in insects. Thus, even if the virus enters a mosquito or another sucking or biting insect, the insect does not become infected and cannot transmit HIV to the next human it feeds on or bites. There is also no reason to fear that a biting or blood-sucking insect, such as a mosquito, could transmit HIV from one person to another through HIV-infected blood left on its mouth parts. Two factors combine to make infection by this route extremely unlikely -- first, infected people do not have constant, high levels of HIV in their bloodstreams and, second, insect mouth parts do not retain large amounts of blood on their surfaces

Just remember, for infection to occur, three things must happen:

1.You must be exposed to pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, blood or breast milk
2.The virus must get directly into your bloodstream through some fresh cut, open sore, abrasion etc.
3.Transmission must occur, directly from one person to the other, very quickly (the virus does not survive more than a few minutes outside the body).

So the next time you get a forwarded email which says HIV spreads through ways and means which doesn’t involve the above 3 things mentioned, please do not simply forward it to all your acquaintances.

What’s that? No harm done you say? Well, no harm to you maybe if you keep on forwarding the myths. But imagine if everybody believed the myths, people will be afraid to come anywhere near an HIV positive person! How on earth then, are they supposed to make a living? All the stigma and discrimination will never end if we keep on spreading these myths.

From my postings, you would have noticed that I have confidently eaten food prepared by HIV infected persons, I have touched them, hugged them, even carried them in my car. If I had the slightest fear that the forwarded emails were in any way true, I wouldn’t have dared do any of those.

And while I previously used to get fever or at least some sort of flu almost every month, believe me, ever since I got myself involved in this HIV voluntary work, I seldom get sick. Honest! Somehow God has given me extra energy to carry out my voluntary work.

Maybe it’s because I enjoy what I do (it’s hard to enjoy my office work!). Or maybe it’s the prayer from all the PLWHAs whom I have helped. Or maybe it’s a combination of everything.

Just give the PLWHAs a break, will you? Please?

Now if you don’t mind, I wanna go google for “Malaya Hospital”… I need to find out where that is… ;)


Kerp (Ph.D) said...

hehe...malaya hospital? sounds like a myth already to me. flush it down, kak pi, flush it down the sewage system!

its a commendable move to have this entry posted to say the least. at least it serve as a reminder as well for those who are aware and a good lesson for those who dont. i'm somewhere in the middle, dont know much but cant be fooled by such email either.

*not fully recovered but here to inform you km/j 2mrw is ON. but no big deal i can promise you, kak Pi. thanks btw.

Faten Rafie said...


well, sometime when I try to brush it off as a hoax, some people get upset, they say that sapa kita nak question kuasa Allah, kalau Allah nak bagi it's possible that HIV is transmitted in the most outrageous way, so mmg tanggunag jawab kita sebagai muslim untuk forward these email! hish, apa nak kata?

Salt N Turmeric said...

thanks for the info Pi. i pun malas nak layan all those kinda emails. 99% of them sounds so stupid esp if its abt anything islamic. cannot eat this or fr tht place or tht brand. even abt mandi wajib. boleh?

Pi Bani said...

I can understand that many may not know the facts. But the least they can do is to find out its authenticity first. Ask someone they think may know. Like the blog reader who forwarded the email to me to get my clarification.

And yes, will remember to watch KM/J tonight. Nak tengok, ada rupa rocker tak mamat yang di interview tu... ;)

Unknown said...

Salam Kak Pi...
I thought it was a hoax when I read Malaya Hospital. What's that? Hotel ada la... ngeh. Nonetheless, I was scared... as you said, better safe than sorry.

I'm still sceptical but feeling all right after reading your current entry. I'm not worried about hanging out with HIV infected buddies as I am well aware of how Aids/HIV can infect a person.

However, I have concern when it comes to using public toilets or going to public places such as the cinema, the playground and the beach. Found a needle once at a playground and that was it! Tak pergi dah. Allah is great, Kak Pi. You are helping those who needed help so HE helps you.

Pi Bani said...

Well yeah, there are some people like that. But then again, if the excuse is that kalau Allah nak bagi then it's possible for HIV to be transmitted in the most outrageous way, then no need to forward the email pun tak apa kan? Allah akan tetap bagi in whatever other ways pulak kan? ;)

Some people tend to forget, menyebar cerita palsu tu apa pulak hukumnya? Ish...

But ye-lah, kadang-kadang kita cakap apa pun ada sajalah alasan yang diberi. For me sometimes I'd just delete the email if I can't get clarification on the authenticity of the forwarded emails.

Pi Bani said...

Memang many tend to forward whatever warnings they get in their mailbox. Ni tak boleh, tu tak boleh, last last apa aje yang boleh? Dok ajelah diam-diam kat rumah... jangan pergi mana-mana, jangan beli apa-apa...

Adoi... sanggup?

Pi Bani said...

Memang we tend to feel scared if we don't know the facts for sure. Public awareness is important in this aspect but aiyooh... some people no matter what we tell them they insist they are doing the right thing. So susahlah to change people's mindset...

Nightwing said...

Helo Kak Pi,

So far have not received this kind of email.

Thanks to your post, will know what to do, if next time received such emails.

Ya, educating the public is the key thing in making sure people do not simply jump the gun.

Pi Bani said...

Yes please, if you do receive such emails in future, please do the necessary. Everybody needs to play a role in educating the public. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pi Bani,

I don't know if this is the first time I've left a comment on your blog. :-)

It is indeed amazing how ignorant people still are about AIDS and the HIV.

There are so many internet hoaxes, and people are so gullible that they even bother to take the time to forward those email!

Glad you brought up this topic though and educating the ignorant.

Pi Bani said...

Yes, I believe that was your first comment in my blog... :)

I guess people would believe the more "dramatic" stuff in the forwarded emails rather than official sources. Send them factual stuff they don't even bother to read. Send them the hoaxes and they swallow everything bulat-bulat.

Still a long way to go to successfully educating the public on the reality of HIV/AIDS.

Thanks for visiting, Puteri.

Unknown said...

Kak Pi,

Extra precautions, I guess, should be taken by all. But we should make the knowledge of how the infections happen and how to prevent a public knowledge; something that everyone know. The media is up to this. But, more should be done eh?
You are definitely right. The ones with HIV and AIDS are already suffering enough. Let’s not add up more the pain onto them due to our own ignorance.
Good day(“,).

Pi Bani said...

Extra precautions, yes, but must be based on facts - not paranoia. We can teach the public the actual facts, but it's their mindset that needs to change first. Otherwise, no matter what they are told, the stigma won't go away.

Thanks and good day to you too, Akmal.

kina said...

Kak Pi,


nyonyapenang said...

Malaya Hospital? You managed to google it? :)

Unknown said...

KakPi... Very insightful piece you have here... It's an eye opener to those naive enough (really?) about getting infected by HIV+ people... I'm glad to have known you and KakMarinaM, those who work beyond office hours to help these group...

Eh email macam tu mmg poison... learn not to swallow all in without searching for its truthfullness or authenticity... sometimes scary because they 'declare' like they know so much about the religion...

p/s: jadi kan our meet up nxt month? told kakton already and she's excited to have you around...hehehe...oppss maaf dah pecah lubang... (those reading this: yes...she's coming...she's coming...)

Pi Bani said...

No problem. Thanks for the effort to seek clarification.

Nyonya Penang:
Malaya Hospital? Ya, it's located in a district called NML (No Man's Land). That's why la the doctor so dumb can suggest that the boy got AIDS from an infected pineapple... ;)

Pi Bani said...

Raden Galoh:
Actually I enjoy my voluntary work more than my office work, so no problem for me there. Tapi nak ditinggalkan office work, apa pulak I nak makan, kan?

Aik, dah pecah lubang ke? Tak payahlah publicise sayang oii...
InsyaAllah jadi, kalau takde aral melintang, terlentang and terbungkang.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

ehemm...the safest form of sex is... carry a weapon. kahkahh...

seriously, right after last night's show which was foruum perdana, they took on this very same subject. the scholars touched on every detail and some myths were flushed, and a good flushing it was.

Pi Bani said...

Yeah I followed the forum. A pleasant change it was to have HIV being discussed in the programme. And good to have a representative of MAC in the panel.

winniethepooh said...

great that ure helping to clear up all those myths PiBani..easy to understand and straight to the point! :)