Fact Check: Using Communal Swimming Pool CANNOT Cause HIV Infection

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Using Communal Swimming Pool CANNOT Cause HIV Infection Fragile Virus

Can using a communal swimming pool cause HIV infection? No, that's not true: The chief medical officer of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation told Lead Stores that there are "no cases of HIV transmission" in a swimming pool. HIV is typically spread through unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles or syringes, or from mother to child during childbirth, breastfeeding or pregnancy.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) published on Facebook on April 27, 2024, under the caption "🗣️No pools for me this summer ‼️" The post's graphic said:

HOA Pool Infected with AIDS. 4th person positive

4th person tested positive this week. Make sure everyone that visited this pool gets checked. The pool wasn't cared for and chemicals were not used.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Apr 29 15:28:05 2024 UTC)

The social media post provides no evidence to support its claim that a pool is infected with AIDS and that four people have tested positive for the disease after visiting it. The post also doesn't identify the city or the state where the pool is located.

The map

Lead Stories found the circled area in the social media post with the help of Google Maps. Utilizing the name Tate Springs from the map in the post, we narrowed our search to communities with the same name in Texas and Tennessee. The highway system near Tate Springs, Texas, was a match, ultimately leading us to nearby Arlington, Texas, and an area bordering Lake Arlington. It's pictured below:


(Source: Google Maps screenshot taken on Mon Apr 29 15:28:05 2024 UTC)


Lead Stories did a search using keywords on Google News, visible here, which found no credible documents or reporting to corroborate such an occurrence in Arlington, Texas.


Dr. Carl Millner, chief medical officer for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, told Lead Stories in an April 29, 2024, phone interview that the information in the social media post cannot be true. When asked if HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread that way, he said:

No, not at all. It can't be transmitted in swimming pools or hot tubs. It cannot live in a hot tub or a swimming pool. There's no cases of HIV transmission through this modality.

... there's something missing to that story because an HIV-positive person swimming in that pool cannot categorically pass HIV.

Millner said HIV is a very fragile virus that only survives in the air for a few seconds and would also die very quickly in water.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In an April 29, 2024, email, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson echoed Millner, saying:

HIV cannot be spread by swimming in the same pool as someone with the virus. Most people get HIV through anal or vaginal sex, or sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment.

Additional details about HIV transmission are available on the public health agency's website.

Response to claim: GLAAD

GLAAD, a non-profit LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, also responded to a Lead Stories query, saying AIDS cannot be spread in the way described in the post. In an April 29, 2024, email, a GLAAD spokesperson said many people don't fully understand how HIV and AIDS are transmitted:

GLAAD's 2023 HIV Stigma Study findings include: Only 3% of Americans say they are not aware of HIV.

However, awareness isn't everything: factual information is key.

And 85% of Americans agree it is important that information about HIV be available in the community.

The fact that this fact check must be done proves we all have more work to do.

Read more

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims related to HIV/AIDS can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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