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Vidyya, from the Sanskrit "vaidya," a practitioner who has come to understand the science of life.

Volume 2 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    26-March-2001      
Issue 85 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST    27-March-2001      

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Back To Vidyya The Latest Health-Related Hoaxes And Rumors

Hoax And Answer Supplied By The CDC


Recently, a story has been circulating over the Internet that a child in Texas died of a heroin overdose after being stuck by a used needle found in a play area. Is this true?


No. This story was investigated and found to be a hoax. To become overdosed on a drug from a used needle and syringe, a person would have to have a large amount of the drug injected directly into their body. A needlestick injury such as that mentioned in the story would not lead to a large enough injection to cause a drug overdose. In addition, drug users would leave very little drug material in a discarded syringe after they have injected. If such an incident were to happen, there would likely be concerns about possible bloodborne infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B or C. The risk of these infections from an improperly disposed of needle, such as that described in the story, would be extremely low.


Recently, a story from a university in another country indicated that HIV could be transmitted through contact with the material of a new, unused feminine (sanitary) pad. Is this true?


No. This is not true. The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a virus that is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact with someone who is infected with HIV. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast feeding. Although some people have been concerned that HIV might be transmitted in other ways, such as through air, water, insects, or objects, no scientific evidence supports these ways to transmit HIV. HIV cannot be transmitted through the use of new, unused feminine pads. Even though no one has gotten HIV from touching used feminine pads, used pads should be wrapped and properly disposed of so no one comes in contact with blood.


Recently, a Weekly World News story made claims that CDC had discovered a mutated version of HIV that is transmitted through the air. Is this true?


This story is not true. It is unfortunate that such stories, which may frighten the public, are being circulated on the Internet. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, is spread by sexual contact (anal, vaginal, or oral) or by sharing needles and/or syringes (primarily for drug injection) with someone who is infected with HIV. It is now less commonly spread through transfusions of infected blood or blood products for people with hemophilia. Babies born to HIV-infected women may become infected before or during birth or through breast-feeding. Many scientific studies have been done to look at all the possible ways that HIV is transmitted. These studies have not shown HIV to be transmitted through air, water, insects, or casual contact. For more information about the transmission of HIV, please call the CDC National STD and AIDS Hotlines at 1-800-342-2437 or refer to additional information on the CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Preventionís web site at

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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