The ministry of health has denied that bananas from certain supermarkets are infected with HIV or that the health minister has said men who are uncircumcised should tie their foreskin to prevent HIV infection.
Spokesperson for the ministry Joe Maila said none of that was true. He said it was an attack on the department by a person or a group of people who are pretending to be speaking on behalf of the minister of health.
In the first instance, attackers said the ministry has advised South Africans not to buy bananas from supermarkets in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Durban, as they contained the virus.
In the second instance they said Health Minister Doctor Aaron Motsoaledi said uncircumcised men did not need to use a condom, they could just tie a knot at the end of their foreskins. They said this was government’s plan to save about R2 billion in 2017 or more in years to come, as condoms did not get distributed and people ended up having unprotected sex.
“This kind of misinformation is wicked by nature, and it will cause confusion and undermine our fight against HIV and Aids. It is designed to cause unnecessary panic to the public.
“We want to state clearly that there was never such warning posted on our website,” Maila said.
He added there were procedures in place to ensure that information placed on their website was accurate and verified by authorised officials of the department.
“Matters of such public health magnitude are not dealt with simply by releasing a press statement.
“The ministry of health would have to convene a media conference to thoroughly inform the public about the risk,” Maila said.
He added that was not the first time that such rumours had made their way to the public. “The minister urges the public to ignore the statement.
“The public must be assured that it is the responsibility of the department to inform the public about any potential risks to their health,” Maila stated.