Origins of HIV and food
Sep 20, 2010
My name is John and I am writing from Holland. I hope my next question will not sound stupid and annoy you. I consider myself generally well educated about HIV and was until a few days ago quite confident that HIV could not be passed through food and/or that animals are not HIV positive so we could not get sick from eating them (of course, not eating alive animals/poultry but products thereof :-) such as beef, chicken etc.). Last Friday, I read an article about the origins of HIV, and the hunting and eating of monkeys in Africa has been one of the most commonly accepted theories on how the epidemic started. Eating is not mentioned as the sole reasons (cuts during hunting are mentioned as well) but as one of the reasons. My question is as follows: Does this mean that from eating certain meat or any other kind of food one could get infected with HIV? Am I just being ignorant (I know I am actually) and confonding the zoonosis processes with how the one can actually get infected? As you could imagine, this made me think about eating in a whole different way and is making me worried. On the hand, I amy just as well lose a few kilos in the process...:-)
Thank you in advance for your response and time,
Response from Dr. Frascino
Your assumptions of a few days ago are correct: HIV is not transmitted via food or animals.
The information about hunting monkeys for food as a potential mechanisms for the virus infecting humans refers to a blood-to-blood transfer. The hunter may have cut himself while butchering his prey. You can read more about this in one of my blog entries entitled "Steaming Hot Monkey Fusion Sex." Check it out on the Body's blog page.
There is now new information suggesting ancient strains of the Simian (monkey) version of HIV date back 32,000 years! (See below.)
Your concerns are unwarranted. Eating Big Macs, super-sized fries and large milkshakes may kill you (by making you fat and clogging up your arteries) but HIV in the food would not be the cause!
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