What Is the Craziest Myth You've Heard About HIV/AIDS?
Even though the facts about HIV are well known and agreed upon by every HIV specialist and every single HIV/AIDS organization in the United States, there remains a lot of misinformation about HIV. We asked HIV-positive people and people who work on the frontlines as nurses, advocates and educators what have been some of the craziest myths they've heard. Here's what they had to say. Please feel free to add myths you've heard in the comment section below.
Comment by: Wilhelm
Tue., Mar. 3, 2015 at 5:22 pm EST
The craziest myth I've read or seen is that "HIV isn't a gay disease" when clearly it is....let's face it, an overwhelming majority of HIV positive people are homosexual males followed by IV drug users then heterosexuals. The communicability of anal sex is much higher then heterosexual sex. Although I don't believe in the stigma of past views on HIV in the early years to ignore the facts is PC group think. Let's not ignore the statistics while trying to put everyone in a "separate but equal" basket.
Comment by: Steven S.
Sun., Jan. 25, 2015 at 9:38 pm EST
Kind of a sad story really to tell about my own family. I became HIV+ in April, 1992. At that time, people were just starting to hear about and begin to understand AIDS, but if you said to them that you were only HIV+, they would say "What is HIV?".
The first Holiday following my diagnosis, when it came time to eat, the food was being served buffet style. My mother insisted on carrying my plate, asking me what I wanted to eat, and SHE served my food off the buffet table onto my plate for me so that I could not touch the food on the table.
Furthermore, no one hugged me, nor did they shake my hand. No contact of any kind.
Still to this day, my family members make no casual contact with me at all !!
I only have two older sisters, one of which does not speak to me. In the past 23 years since my diagnosis, not once has my oldest sister ever picked up the phone and called me to visit for a few minutes or to check on my well being all in the name of 'being too busy' with her own life.
If I do go to a Holiday gathering where my family is all there, my sister says hello to me when she walks in the door and goodbye when she leaves. I only see her once a year (if that) and this is her prime opportunity to engage in conversation with me and she refuses to do so.
I live in Berkeley, CA and they all live in Sacramento which is about a two hour drive each way. It is even getting harder to get someone to come pick me up to participate in family functions, so I end up missing out.
However, all is not lost. I have a wonderful loving pet Chihuahua who is the love of my life and provides me more love than my entire family combined, so I end up choosing to just stay home even for the Holidays.
Comment by: Robert Perez
Tue., Dec. 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm EST
A friend or friends of mine we're talking about the "side-effects",of there regiment of pills and talk came to the abscensed of saliva or the need for or the waste of saliva,is there any fact to this?
Comment by: ndungu
Wed., Jun. 4, 2014 at 4:22 am EDT
Great article as well as comments from various bloggers across the world.Most outlandish myth I have heard is that if you are straight (heterosexual) you can not contract HIV. This is a misconception especially for us who are living in sub-saharan Africa. Sensitization campaigns need to lay more emphasis on the fact that "the risk to contract HIV does not necessarily depend on one's sexual orientation (being gay, sex worker, Injecting drug user etc). The risk is on what you do (folks who are complacent when engaging in sexual activities regardless of their sexual orientation are more susceptible to getting infected with HIV. It is also worth noting that most of these myths which are associated with HIV fuel the stigma to HIV/Aids in sub-saharan Africa and in other parts of the world too. More outreaches/sensitization campaigns needed to educate the masses. Again, frightened people can not make rational decisions and in some cases we have witnessed PLWHA experiencing violence because people lack the right information.
Comment by: John DeFaro
Thu., Mar. 14, 2013 at 11:45 am EDT
Make up a myth as an art/activist Outdoor Installation project raising the bar with satire. 'Trees Have AIDS.' Turn the joke on ignorance and beat down stigma. www.treeshaveaids.com / Installations page.
Comment by: ousep
Sat., Mar. 9, 2013 at 6:16 am EST
the blundet i heard about hiv2 is that its window peripd is same as hiv1... really hiv 2 antibody test will only necome +ve after one year of expoture
Comment by: yetunde
Wed., Feb. 27, 2013 at 10:09 am EST
Am an HIV care giver and have worked with persons living with the virus for over twelve years.A lot of myths but most common is that for a partner to be positive the other partner is also positive.
Comment by: cliff
Tue., Feb. 26, 2013 at 8:29 pm EST
I was working in the Pittsburg airport in the middle 1980's. There were people with signs and a Jesus table set up telling everyone the mosquitoes don't were condoms. So if you are around anyone with AIDS the virus can be transmitted by mosquitoes.
Comment by: donna g.
Sun., Jan. 27, 2013 at 8:51 am EST
my doctor started yelling at me asking me where did you get H I V, and accusing me of being nasty. I had to go home and tell my boyfriend , my daughter and I figure it all out ,Im stil married to a man who was in prison for a while he was messing around with the men in there but married me to get out, but my doctor make me feel really bad and im not sure what im going to do. im a prisoner now
Comment by: Alexis
Sat., Dec. 1, 2012 at 3:37 am EST
I'm not HIV positive nor do I have the virus but I have heard that if a guy sticks his fingers in his ear and get the wax and finger a woman that if she says it burns that she has HIV.....
Comment by: Justin
Mon., Dec. 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm EST
it is not proven tha hiv is the cause of aids! there is no proof in fact they didnt even check for hiv until the mid 80's...how many people from the 40'2 or 1800' had hiv? hiv is a part of human evoluttion. It had better of always been around....because if it was manufactured by scientists and governments....they owe millions to millions of people.
Comment by: Justin
Mon., Dec. 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm EST
Actually I heard and probably do believe that they have never found and still can not definatively say that the HIV virus is the cause of aids ...and that many many people have had hiv virus for hundreds of years....Who knows? Is it just a big money grab for the drug companies?
Comment by: Nandipha
(Western CApe South Africa)
Thu., May. 19, 2011 at 4:20 am EDT
You know what there are a lot of Myth taht if one sleeps with a Virgin he can be cured from being HIV positive to HIV negative ,off which that is amyth
Comment by: Gail M.
Tue., Mar. 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm EDT
The most outrageous myth Ive heard? HIV can be washed away if you douche with Cola after a sex act! Needless to say the perpetrators of that myth were schooled immediately.
Comment by: Randall
Tue., Mar. 8, 2011 at 10:28 am EST
After I was diagnosed a close friend was inspired to get tested to know her status and when she told the doctor (at an on campus, college clinic) about me, the doctor told her to avoid sharing a bucket of popcorn because as I touch my lips and put it back in the bucket for more, I will infect the rest of the popcorn.
Comment by: Musa Siyanga
Wed., Jan. 19, 2011 at 8:49 am EST
The craziest myth I have heard and unfortunately may lead a lot of young people to contract the virus, is that s0me people stii believe that having penial/vaginal sexual intercourse with a young person cleanses you of the virus. This has resulted in older people living with the virus to defile under age children, at times own children of five years or less. How absurd. They read and know this is not true but will still be cheated to do it all in the name of finding a cure for their condition.
Comment by: tracey
Tue., Nov. 16, 2010 at 9:34 pm EST
idk if its a myth or not, but one of the craziest things that i heard about hiv is that some guy had sex with a monkey and contracted the disease and brought it to the u.s.
Comment by: Hellen R.
Fri., Aug. 27, 2010 at 3:06 am EDT
HIV/Aids people are our brothers and sister. They deserve to be treated with respect and the Dignity they deserve. There are different myth about how you will get infected but i don't believe it that. We must have a full information about this desease first before we hurt other people's feelings. Blood fluids are the dangerous course of infection not the other way around. Not toilet seat, same cup or other things. We are equal, no one is different from each other. We don't know what would happen to us tomorrow.
Comment by: Mauro
(Rio de Janeiro - Brazil)
Tue., May. 25, 2010 at 10:18 pm EDT
I listen to those things every other day. It is amazing. Another thing is when people think you could put them in danger (with flu, coffs, etc) when it is exactly the opposite. By the way, you´re cute.
Comment by: theodor
Thu., Apr. 22, 2010 at 10:36 am EDT
the most one is that if you have sex standing, you wont get the virus and if you wash your vagina or penis after sex you wont get the virus.
Comment by: Tom Hemmingsen
Sun., Feb. 28, 2010 at 8:11 am EST
The Craziest thing that I've ever heard about HIV/AIDS is the recent (Feb 25th 2010, Washington Post) diatribe by Senator (Dr) Tom Coburn castigating the International AIDS Conference as "a Waste of Money".
Comment by: Jared
Sun., Feb. 7, 2010 at 1:42 am EST
Dovis, am I right in thinking that you believe that homosexual people started AIDS? Because last time I checked, people didn't create viruses--mother nature did. And if it were targeted to gay people, straight people wouldn't also get it.
Sounds like stupidity is the virus, and the blame lies squarely on you for that one.
Comment by: Kellie
Thu., Jan. 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm EST
Dovis, Really? Sounds like you have a lot of free time on your hands and a lot of hatred in your heart. Go bark up another tree. No one wants to hear your crap on here.
Comment by: dovis
Sat., Jan. 9, 2010 at 6:20 am EST
The truth is that AIDS is going to carry on killing people.
Condoms are not safe; and manufacturers expect them to fail which means innocent men women and children will unknowingly carry the virus and infect others.
It is a virus and it will mutate - one area never discussed is the role of HIV in the unborn. The foetus is perhaps one of the areas where new and pandemic versions of AIDS will be bred.
What does this mean in real terms?
Consider a chilling fact - virus bodies can cross mutate. This means for example that it is not impossible for the SWINE FLU virus and a mutating AIDS virus to combine. The AIDS variant would not be apparent for some months or even years.
However, once infected EVERYONE will die. The whole planet could literally be wiped out and humankind would cease to be. The blame for this end of days lies squarely at the door of homosexuals. Is it really possible to say then that Homosexuality is a good thing? Should children so easily be allowed to be homosexuals?
Comment by: Daniel
Mon., Dec. 21, 2009 at 9:46 pm EST
@ ROS - I don't agree with you. I think the idea that marriage is a total safeguard against HIV is just as much a myth because, for better or worse, some people cheat on their married partners. Because of that, the only real 100% protection against HIV is life long virginity on the part of every member of the human race until HIV has been eradicated. But even then there are still non-sexual ways of getting HIV out there, although very rare nowadays (but then again, look at China and the massive blood transfusion scandal of the mid 2000s.) Life-long virginity might happen in some imaginary parallel universe but obviously it's never going to happen in ours. I've never heard it claimed by any health authority that using condoms will prevent HIV infection 100% of the time. I think most people realize that. However they do provide a measure of protection that lowers the risk dramatically. It's by far the best, most economical solution we have.
Comment by: ROS
Fri., Dec. 18, 2009 at 7:12 am EST
The truth is, the only way to prevent being infected is abstinence until marriage. I understand this is an unpopular solution in our culture, but its the only way. Everyone keeps saying, "just use a condom". Although condoms do offer some protection, its not fool proof. The reason is, 3% of all condoms manufactured have microscopic holes that can't be seen with the naked eye. Sure the manufacturer checks for this, but some these defective condoms still make it stores. Yeah, 3% is small until you become apart of that statistic! A box of condoms cost around 3 bucks. That's about $1.33 a piece. Are you really going to put your Faith in a piece of ($1.33) latex that may , or may not work. Everything you have work for, could be jeopardized for only $1.33! That's the cold hard fact. THE BIGGEST MYTH IS, IF YOU USE A CONDOM EVERYTIME, YOU WON'T CATCH HIV. Abstinence until marriage, has nothing to do with religion. It's the only way to stop it.
Comment by: Michael M
Sun., Dec. 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm EST
My response is to the myths about how you can catch HIV. What is so scary is the about face that the young, gay community has seemed to do with regards to this issue. I meet more and more guys these days that are between the ages of 18 and 22 and newly infected and it seems to be the result of a lack of respect for the disease. I know so many who really don't care about catching HIV because they think that they can just be ok as long as they get the meds. I am not saying that we need to instill fear into these young men but there has to be a way to help them understand that while this isnt a death sentence anymore, it isn't the life many of us would have chosen. I do not regret that I have HIV. It, along with other things, has given me the hope and strength that I live with today and for that I am grateful. It just pains me to see so many young men that feel it is their destiny.
Comment by: Harvett
(East Cleveland, OH)
Tue., Dec. 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm EST
This comment is to J; J you are so correct, I was blessed to have gone to a catholic school and had the grandparents who did not raise my brother and I with puritanical beliefs. People are going to have sex, Not everyone waits until they are eighteen for their first kiss or after the age of nineteen for their first sexual experience (like myself), The catholic school I went to spoke to us about sex and the priests were sent out of their school, It angers me that the church was against that. They were doing God's work by protecting their children. I have held people with AIDS dying in my arms, the religious (so called ) people should be ashamed of themselves, some of them need to talk about it more, keeping it hidden causes more problems. This country is the last to point fingers at anyone, especially when the average number of sex partners is 12, that is something.
Comment by: George Okazeke
Tue., Nov. 17, 2009 at 1:07 am EST
the greatest myth I heard: when a man is HIV positive then he must have unprotected sex with a virgin and he will be cured, the virus will leave his body.
Comment by: Dan
Fri., Nov. 13, 2009 at 7:40 am EST
The craziest myth I've ever heard is that Aids/HIV infection symptoms are caused not by the HIV but by sinful acts resulting in by demons possessing the body and that excorcism/"deliverance" by a pastor/minister will get rid of it all.
Comment by: true
Wed., Nov. 11, 2009 at 6:47 pm EST
the craziest myth I ever heard, was if you had sex outside, that hiv/aids will die once it hits air, or that you have to have unprotected sex more than once with a person to catch it
Comment by: dr george pradhaan, mbbs/ind
Wed., Nov. 11, 2009 at 8:11 am EST
friends, the simple way to face these problems an doubts is to open a small community center in a thatched hut, with mats and stools, and live and move with a few PLWHA and PDWHA . I eat out of my friends plates and of their cups and kiss them on the mouth jus to show all and everybody that saliva is safe. All the body fluids do have the germ. but to what quantity and quality to be infectious to others.This is the message we have to demonstrate. Comfort to the mind and soul are the ultimate therapy, after all the mighty HAART have done their good job.
Comment by: J
Mon., Nov. 9, 2009 at 3:24 am EST
Living with HIV. I'm extremly annoyed and angry with the ignorance! When I try to date, its unbelievable how ignorant so many are,they think they can avoid getting HIV by simply asking a sexual partner of their status. They willingly have unprotected sex based on a response and promise! Teenagers in high school are not being taught low risk behavior instead an unrealistic propaganda for abstinence, I wouldn't be dealing with the prejudism and ignorance of so many ignorant people I meet sexually and non sexually if our government stopped arguing over irrelevant opinions and faced the reality that sex is natural and risky behavior isn't going to stop in the name of abstinence! Sexual education fails in our high schools because of puritan propaganda. Sorry to dissapoint religious advocates but humans have been having sex long before and will be long after HIV. Spare me the ignorance and let's focus on what is practical. We are a sexual species. When I jump in my car I wear my seatbelt. I don't believe the seatbelt is going to eleminate my risk of dieing in a car accident. Use a condom even if you trust your sexual partner. Risk education needs to be pounded into the heads of young adults and anyone sexually mature who didn't get the memo.
Comment by: diana D
(key WEst Florida)
Mon., Oct. 19, 2009 at 7:36 am EDT
I am concerned that some one will actually follow the advice not to take meds because they think that's what causes aids.... I have been positive for 25 years. I was very resistant to taking the medications. Even after watching my brother die with aids and dementia. I have gone from 0 tcells and toxoplasmosis to having 600 and doing well. I have had much problems taking the meds due to side effects. I have been off for nearly three years. My last t count was 57. I started meds last week .. I am very sick but I know that I will get better as my counts go up..yes they are toxic and yes they are hard for me to take.. BUT yes they save lives and I know from personal experience that Hiv is not caused by meds... and the only hope I have of living is to bite the bullet and take them... I hope if you are considering weather or not to take them you choose life.. and take them... bless us all ....
Comment by: Genevieve Rohan
Mon., Jul. 27, 2009 at 12:17 pm EDT
I am an HIV provider. I received a call from an apartment landlord who wanted to know how to go about disinfecting his apartment complex swimming pool because a complex resident -- who had made her status public -- had been swimming in the pool!
Comment by: marie
Tue., Jun. 23, 2009 at 11:17 pm EDT
it aint nobody problem that we all have diease but we learn from being burn and being kill from infection sperm how many decades its going take us to see that a condom may promise us life but with diease we have to put up a fight our lifes is in the hands of medicine
Comment by: Mark Gama
Wed., Jun. 10, 2009 at 10:55 am EDT
The craziest myth I come across in counseling is that most HIV+ think that if they are infected they will start drinking alcohol to make the virus drunk thereby reducing the strings of the virus.
Comment by: ezelagbo
Tue., May. 26, 2009 at 9:52 am EDT
The greatest myth in Nigeria is the belief that HIV can be transmitted through some spiritual means by an enemy. Its unfortunate because it makes people dwell on the wrong belief and they don't change their sexual behaviour that puts them at risk of HIV infection
Comment by: Harvett
(East Cleveland, OH)
Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm EDT
The worst myth I heard was that you can look at someone and tell. No way, I had a nurse ask me,"How can you tell if someone has HIV?" I told her you can't. Unless GOD gives you signs -- you will never know. One thing I can tell you that some people with HIV will say things like this: I take vitamins, My blood pressure medicine is making me tired (of course the toxicity of the medicines will have pressure on your blood, but it not medicine for hypertension). Oh the last thing, I took an HIV test, it was negative, positive then negative again. Being in Atlanta, and elsewhere has taught me a lot. You all are foolish if you are not scared.
Comment by: Derick
Mon., Apr. 6, 2009 at 3:50 pm EDT
There are so many myths about HIV. It's important to understand that you cannot get rid of HIV by having sex with ANYONE! It's important to also understand that if you have unprotected sex with an HIV positive person and you're negative and you don't get HIV, this DOES NOT MEAN THAT HIV IS not a transmittable disease!! IT could mean many things. There are some people who do NOT get infected with HIV because of their immune system.Other people who are positive don't transmit HIV easily cause they are undetectable. It think people believe all sorts of untrue things about HIV because they don't understand HIV. Learn about HIV and you won't be full of myths about it!
Comment by: Myth in the Making! Here's A Crazy Myth!
Sat., Mar. 14, 2009 at 5:13 am EDT
EXAMPLE OF AIDS MYTH!!!!!!!!How long are we going to keep this up? All you have to do is to look at both sides of the argument to see that we are not dying from so called AIDS. But we keep doing the same thing over and over looking for a different result. The so called AIDS virus has never been properly isolated. This so called
AIDS virus, HIV, was originally investigated as a cancer virus. That is it was believed to caused the wild uncontrolled growth of cells. Now its being investigated for the death of T cells! Come on people, wake up! Originally it attacked homosexuals. The fast lane ones who used drugs and were very promiscuous in their sexual practices. And the ones who got sick all used "poppers" and they all had
Karposi's Sarcoma and/or Pnemocystis Carini Pneumonia. It was called GRIDS in the beginning...
Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome. PCP and KS were the two survalence marker diseases.
We expanded the definition to include a lot more diseases including this so called "HIV test" and the counting of T cells so that it appears that the new epidemic which we now call AIDS is still alive. Wake up! How can a virus choose to attack only Gay white men in the begining now attack mostly Black females? A virus can't do that. Its has no brains! How can a virus remain dormant for 10 to 25 years and then all of a sudden come alive and give you AIDS? Come on people THINK! One organization lists more than 166 symptoms for AIDS. As a matter of fact they (Patients Like You) list
AIDS as a side effect for AIDS! Now that's scary. I met a lot of so called HIV positive people who think they are different because they never got treated with those antiretroviral drugs and never got sick. Truth be told no one will get sick if we would only stop the MEDS! It seems we have the ability to question anything as long as a guy in a white coat with some long initials after his name is not the one saying it.
Comment by: nana
Thu., Mar. 5, 2009 at 10:44 am EST
i wonder if some of these are actually true?? but most of them sounds like myths.... if any one can answer i want to know the max number of years one can live with hiv.
Comment by: pk
Thu., Feb. 26, 2009 at 11:49 am EST
Aids is real and people think just because they aren't sick that they don't have the disease. There is a man in houston who has had aids for 11 yrs now. his wife and two of his kids are hiv positive. his wife died this yr and his other partners have to take medicine and he has never took a drop of medicine or gotten sick so he claims he doesn't have it and continues to sleep with different women. He is what we called a carrier of this disease. you really need to read into what the disease is and how it works in different people cause it's not the same for everyone. some people can fight off the virus and most can't but rarely there are people who's viral load count is so low it doesn't detect the virus in their body for years and years. so be careful and practice safe sex cause it's possible you can be living with it now but don't know it. I stay getting tested and i've been with my partner for over 4 yrs. anyone can make a mistake and pass it on but it takes a human being with a heart to stop the spread of it.
Comment by: E
Tue., Feb. 17, 2009 at 9:08 am EST
You're playing with fire! If you're having unprotected sex with positive women you can get infected! It takes an average of 10 years for someone with HIV to show a symptom. Are they seeing a doctor? There are free clinics for people with HIV throughout the U.S. It is possible that they are what's called nonprogressors--meaning that they have HIV but their body takes care of it. But it is unlikely since only 2% of people with HIV are nonprogressors. If you care about these women you will make sure that they see a doctor and if they need treatment they get it. This treatment, contrary to rumors, is lifesaving! If you care about yourself, you'll get tested for HIV and stop playing with fire and having unprotected sex with postiive women unless you really want to get it!
Comment by: Marshall Sandefur
Tue., Feb. 17, 2009 at 5:12 am EST
hey, Eli Dancy. I have been having sex with two women who are HIV positive for almost 10 years. No one got treated and no one is sick. Why do you think this is so?
Comment by: Samrawit Mengistu
Wed., Feb. 11, 2009 at 12:24 am EST
You know it is really hard for me by the time i heard..... that people with the virus at some areas of Ethiopia make sex by force with about 10 girls to get cured of it. and i think it has been practiced for a long time, which is really weird.
Comment by: Tony
Mon., Feb. 9, 2009 at 6:06 pm EST
One possible myth that even the doctors on this site promote is that CD4 count of someone on HARRT is an accurate assessment on the whether they are in danger of immune failure.
A recent study found no correlation between higher CD4 count as a result of HARRT, and a decreased chanced of immune failure. In other words, the meds may have boosted their CD4 count, but they are still just as likely to die from AIDS as someone with poor CD4 count.
read all about it:
Comment by: george
Tue., Feb. 3, 2009 at 9:32 pm EST
Crazy myths that I've heard is that you shouldn't put on condoms cause there are worms inside of them. Or that puritanical Americans made up AIDS just to stop people from having to much sex. They say that AIDS stands for America's Idea to Discourage Sex. I also heard some denialist nuts say that condoms cause penis cancer and one last myth that is real popular...HIV isn't a danger for heterosexuals...
Comment by: trinidadian girl
Tue., Feb. 3, 2009 at 9:03 am EST
the worst myth i ever heard in my country is that you can only get HIV if you have sex with someone who has full blown aids. A lot of young people believe that and it has contributed to the spread if the desease.
Comment by: LATRESE ALLEN
Thu., Jan. 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm EST
The craziest thing I ever heard is: My friend had sex with a guy that has H.I.V. and we told her he had it. "She replied he can't have it I had sex with him."
Comment by: agyemang
Tue., Jan. 27, 2009 at 7:18 am EST
the myth craziest myth about AIDS that l've heard is that you get AIDS when in the process of having sex with your partner, she releases air from the anus.
Comment by: Kaka John
Wed., Jan. 21, 2009 at 6:06 am EST
Sounds funny, but has been claimed by some evangelists; that one can prayed for and be healed of the HIV infection! Crazy isn't it?
Comment by: george
Fri., Jan. 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm EST
the craziest myth I heard is from a teacher who said that there are lots of unknown ways you can get HIV. She had a friend, in fact, who got it this way. Also these people who say that HIV is not a disease that will kill you, that the HIV drugs will kill you (fools like Gary Null and duesberg). that all the drug companies are evil and making drugs that kill you. the paranoi is really amazing!
Comment by: Patrick Archer
Thu., Jan. 15, 2009 at 9:13 pm EST
The craziest myth I ever heard was back in about 1989 when I lived on a private lake in a very small town in Michigan and the neighbors were telling each other that I probably pee in the lake when I'm fishing, so the fish have HIV/AIDS.
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