A video clip of a medical advisor comparing SARS-CoV-2 and long COVID to HIV and AIDS led some to claim that long COVID is actually a vaccine injury called vaccine AIDS, or “VAIDS.” A former cardiologist resurfaced the debunked myth that COVID-19 vaccines cause positive HIV tests and that the alleged positive tests are a sign that the vaccine has weakened the immune system. Both false claims are circulating in English and Spanish.
Risk level: Medium
Recommendation: These types of posts promote the false narrative that COVID-19 vaccines cause HIV/AIDS and may discourage patients from getting the updated COVID-19 vaccine. The widespread nature of these posts elevates the risk. Talking points may emphasize that “VAIDS” is not a real disease. The false claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause positive HIV tests is a misrepresentation of a failed COVID-19 vaccine candidate that contained an HIV protein and research showing that some individuals infected with COVID-19 may falsely test positive for HIV, possibly due to similarities in the viruses’ proteins. There is no record of any COVID-19 vaccine causing positive HIV tests. Moreover, HIV tests detect the presence of HIV, not immunodeficiency, and thus could not possibly detect immune damage due to HIV, COVID-19, or any other cause. The CDC recommends the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, because staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines helps prevent severe illness, hospitalization, death, and long COVID.