Claim: A broadcast message on WhatsApp claimed that a Pepsi employee was arrested for contaminating drinks with HIV/AIDS blood. Attached to the claim was an image of a person arrested by security operatives.
Verdict: False! The individual in the picture was not arrested for injecting his HIV/AIDS into Pepsi.
Numerous truth-seeking organisations diligently work to inundate the information ecosystem with factual news. However, misinformation, disinformation, and false information persist.
Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and WhatsApp are notable mediums buzzing with a wide range of information, some of which contribute to originality, while others mislead people.
A WhatsApp message has recently been circulating among groups and individuals on the platform. This message includes a picture of a man apprehended by security personnel, accompanied by a caption that states:
“ This is the guy who added his infected blood to Pepsi.”
The message goes on to assert: “ For the next two weeks, do not drink any products from Pepsi, as a worker from the company has added his blood contaminated with HIV(AIDS). It was shown yesterday on Sky News. Please send this message to the people who you care about.”
Given the unusual nature of this message, Prime Progress decided to investigate further to determine its authenticity.
To verify the authenticity of the claim, Prime Progress conducted a thorough search on various platforms to determine if there were similar claims. It turns out that the claim has been made at different times across several years. Some of the examples are here, here, here, here and here
Also, a Google Lens analysis of the attached image shows that the same picture attached to the claim had been used in a different claim, raising suspicion.
This other claim stated:
"This is the individual who allegedly added his infected blood to Cadbury products. For the next few weeks, please refrain from consuming any products from Cadbury, as it is alleged that an employee of the company added his blood contaminated with HIV/AIDS. Supposedly, this was reported on BBC News yesterday. Kindly share this message with people you care about."
Despite the varying contexts of these claims, they both revolve around the same individual allegedly contaminating different products with HIV-infected blood.
Depending on the specific post, the information suggests that these claims were reported either on BBC or Sky News, both prominent British networks. However, a search on their respective websites yielded no results pertaining to Pepsi, Cadbury, or HIV contamination.
Furthermore, a Google reverse image search was conducted on the image linked to the claim. The results confirmed that the man in the picture is Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, one of the suspects arrested by security operatives for being behind the Nyanya bomb blast that occurred on April 14, 2014, in Abuja, Nigeria.
This tragic incident claimed the lives of over 75 people and left more than 100 others injured.
You can refer to this video for more comprehensive details and insights into Ogwuche's arrest.
Can HIV be transmitted through soda?
Despite the clarity already established regarding the claim, it is also essential to answer the above.
According to the Centre for Food Safety, "There have been rumours circulating among users of mobile electronic devices, claiming that various food products were contaminated with HIV."
Referring to the World Health Organization or WHO, it goes on to clarify that HIV cannot be transmitted through water or food. In fact, HIV does not survive for an extended period outside the human body. Even if a small amount of infected blood were present in the food or water, exposure to the air, cooking heat, and stomach acid would render the virus inactive.
After conducting a thorough investigation, it is evident that the claim is false in either scenario. The authentic photograph, though genuine, was taken out of context and shared in a misleading manner.