A photo of the late Luc Montagnier, a French virologist who became famous for his complicity in the discovery of HIV, has been very popular on social media. It illustrates a post with a quote attributed to the virologist that after receiving the third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, people should get tested for AIDS. The second part of the statement suggests that the result will be positive. In fact, there is no credible evidence that Luc Montagnier said that, and available COVID-19 vaccines do not result in a positive HIV test.
This false information has spread all over the world. It was refuted by Reuters, Lead Stories, Bolivia Verifica, Turkish Teyit, Indian The Economic Times or Greek Ellinika Hoaxes.
Luc Montagnier was a French virologist who received the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his complicity in the discovery of HIV. We wrote about him in the context of another statement incorrectly attributed to him (Luc Montagnier said that all vaccinated people would die within two years? That is not true). In final years of life, Montagnier supported the anti-vaccine movement with statements inconsistent with current medical knowledge, for instance by claiming that COVID-19 vaccines are responsible for the emergence of new variants of SARS-CoV-2. Montagnier was also the founder of the controversial Chronimed association, whose doctors used to prescribe antibiotics and antifungal, antiparasitic, antiviral and chelating agents (for the removal of heavy metals) without medical indications, to allegedly treat children with autism.
While searching for the source of this statement, we did not come across any reliable confirmation that Luc Montagnier was the author of these words. Moreover, it is also unlikely for another reason. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). However, HIV infection is not synonymous with the development of AIDS – asymptomatic HIV infection can last 8-10 years, and with recent developments in medicine, early antiretroviral treatment may prevent AIDS from developing. For this reason, diagnostic tests are performed for the presence of HIV, and not for the disease caused by the virus. The virologist who discovered HIV must have been aware of this, hence it is unlikely that he would use the phrase “AIDS test”.
The Source of the Quote
The described image has been widely shared, primarily on Facebook, but it can also be found on Twitter or on the gloria.tv portal. In addition, it has been circulating on a German-speaking conspiracy channel on Telegram associated with the QAnon movement called Q+++.
To identify its source, we used the reverse image search method, thanks to which we found a similar screenshot, but cropped differently. It included information that the post had been translated into English from Greek. After translating the contents into Greek, we came across this post, the original (unedited) version of which had been used to create the fake image (as indicated by the specific punctuation and publication date.)
After some time, the misinformation began to live his own life, and this narrative was used by e.g. Jacek Wilk or Rafał Piech.
It also appeared several times on Telegram, for instance on the following channels: Ocalić życie, STRAŻNICY WOLNOŚCI, Rebel24, C-19 Bitwa o prawdę, OSTATNI SPRAWIEDLIWI, Anielskie Siostry Jasnowidzki.
Reiner Fuellmich’s “Non-parliamentary Committee of Inquiry on the Coronavirus”
Rafał Piech, the president of Siemianowice Śląskie, regularly publishes videos containing disinforming content about vaccines on the website of his foundation called Polska Jest Jedna. In one of them, he discusses the increase in HIV infections in Poland and recalls Montagnier’s alleged statement. His video has been viewed more than 26 thousand times and was also cited by the Wolnosc.TV portal.
In the recording, however, Piech did not limit himself to referring to Montagnier’s alleged statement only. Later on in the video, he also refers to an online conference of the German self-proclaimed “Non-Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry on the Coronavirus” chaired by Reiner Fuellmich (we wrote about him in an article discussing the Nuremberg 2.0 project). Piech calls the conference participants “experts who know what they are talking about”.
However, in the video we can see two lawyers – the aforementioned Reiner Fuellmich and Todd Callender. The latter refers to measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic as a global military operation, and calls vaccination programmes a coordinated genocide. Apart from them, one of the remaining participants is Wolfgang Wodarg, a doctor and politician who became famous for employing Gert Postel – an impostor claiming to be a doctor (who was in fact a postman) – as a public health officer. Wodarg is also the author of the book entitled Faked Pandemics. Both he and Fuellmich belong to the German party die Basis, founded in 2020, whose members are known for spreading conspiracy theories.
During the meeting, Fuellmich asked Callender about the reason behind the increase in the number of excessive deaths:
[Reiner Fuellmich] I saw a little video clip, in which you were interviewed. I forgot who it was that interviewed you but you told them about the incredible, well should I say excess mortality, and I don’t know what caused this excess mortality. It must have something to do with the so-called vaccinations, of course. It may be lipid nanoparticles, maybe the Spike protein. I don’t know. What do you know about this?
[Todd Callender] I do know. It’s not even a question. We’ve figured this out. The lipid nanoparticles, think of them like little bombers, and they are carrying payloads. Those payloads are oligonucleotides, mRNA and synthetic DNA. (…) In order to slip those little bombers pass the humans’ natural immunity, they had to disarm peoples’ natural immunity. They used 3 different HIV proteins: GP120, AD5 as an adjuvant and PP14. (…) What is particularly alarming in terms of all this numbers, excess mortality and morbidity, is that the people that put those three HIV proteins into the shots disarmed peoples’ natural immunity, gave them vaccines and AIDS, and they didn’t give them anything to reverse it. (…) Everybody knows that. The short answer to this whole thing is that everybody that got the shots was given some form or level of AIDS. The ones that got one shot, it seems they have about 30% of natural immunity destroyed. By the time they get three shots, all their natural immunity is completely gone.
Piech refers to this statement by the lawyer, suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines are responsible for the increase in HIV infections. We are to be infected intentionally in order to create the demand for an HIV vaccine. According to Piech, this is all part of a broad conspiracy to make all of us suffer from various diseases, including cancer.
In July 2022, LegaArtis published a post entitled “If you get a positive test after vaccination and need to be hospitalized, you probably have AIDS”. The article, which looks like a machine translation from a foreign language, contains a statement by the aforementioned lawyer Reiner Fuellmich recorded a few months earlier during the InfoWars show hosted by Alex Jones. In the video, Fuellmich claims that he heard these words in person while interviewing Montagnier a few months before his death.
Gp120, pp14 and Ad5 Proteins
The only factor leading to AIDS is HIV infection. The mere presence of a protein which is also a part of the HIV molecule cannot result in the development of AIDS. Moreover, only one of the 3 proteins mentioned by the lawyer occurs in the HIV molecule – the gp120. Surface glycoprotein (a component of the HIV envelope) plays a key role in infection, enabling the virus molecule to enter the host cell. The gp120 protein is also used as an antigen in HIV vaccines currently under development (its use does not pose any danger).
The other two molecules mentioned by Callender, which do not occur in the HIV molecule, are:
- pp14 (placental protein 14) – is secreted by the human endometrium under the influence of progesterone.
- Ad5 – this is not a protein, but a group of adenovirus serotype 5 viral vectors used in the Sputnik V and Convidecia vaccines.
None of these can be found in the Comirnaty (Pfizer), Moderna, Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) or Janssen vaccines.
Other narratives linking COVID-19 vaccination with HIV
Vaccine-related narratives already appeared on the web with the intention to instil fear of HIV infection as a result of receiving the vaccine.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 with false-positive results in HIV tests”
In December 2020, Australian company CSL announced the suspension of works on a COVID-19 vaccine developed in cooperation with the University of Queensland. One of the components of the vaccine was the gp41 protein. Antibodies produced against this protein gave false-positive results in some HIV tests. Subsequent tests confirmed there was no HIV virus present, but ultimately the decision was made to stop working on the vaccine.
In an interview with Reuters, Dr. Amesh Adalja, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said that none of the existing commercially available vaccines produces cross-reactivity with HIV tests so there is no basis to think that COVID vaccination or booster vaccination induces false positive HIV tests.
In 2021, the anti-vaccine environment coined the term VAIDS (Vaccine Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) to describe a non-existent disease that was supposed to be caused by vaccination. The case was described, among others, by Konkret24, AP News or PolitiFact. According to experts quoted by these portals, the COVID-19 vaccine does not cause AIDS, and VAIDS simply does not exist.
“Vaccines destroy the immune system”
The preprint of the Swedish study published in October 2021, which described the decrease in immunity as a result of vaccination depending on the time that has elapsed since the injection, also turned out to be a shot in the foot. The anti-vaccine environment twisted the conclusions of the study, claiming that the effectiveness of vaccination fell below zero, which in their opinion would mean that vaccinated people are more susceptible to COVID-19 infection than non-vaccinated people. This study was also used to support the narrative about the relationship between COVID-19 vaccination and AIDS, which was reported by portals such as Bibuła or Legion Ekpedyta.
There is no evidence that Luc Montagnier is the author of the words about positive AIDS tests after COVID-19 vaccination. It is highly unlikely that a virologist, who had received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of HIV, would use the phrase “AIDS test” instead of “HIV test”. The image circulating on the web is a screenshot of a Facebook post translated from Greek into English.
The scientific community agrees that only HIV virus can cause AIDS. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain HIV. There are also no COVID-19 vaccines currently available on the market that would give false-positive HIV test results.
The potential HIV infection instils fear in people, which is why this topic is willingly used in disinformation related to vaccination. At the same time, leaders of the anti-vaccine movement, who play on the emotions of the public to influence their decisions and social moods, explicitly warn against social engineering and fear as a management technique, which according to them are to be used by the authorities and mainstream media.