This article originally appeared on VICE US
The August release of the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton unearthed an old conspiracy theory about the tragic 1995 death of charismatic rapper Eazy E from AIDS. Some fans and the son of the late emcee believe that Death Row Records mogul Suge Knight, perhaps along with unknown conspirators, somehow infected Eazy E with HIV in a deliberate (and rapidly successful) attempt to kill him.
Now, a new wrinkle in this ongoing game of amateur CSI has emerged: Frost, a rapper signed to Ruthless Records back in the early 90s, says the murder weapon was an HIV-infused acupuncture needle.
In a new video from For the Record, an aspiring hip-hop documentary crew, Frost claims Eazy E had been injured on a quad bike, and was receiving acupuncture treatments. Frost details the infection scheme around 4:16:
"I think they really had a stronghold of giving him tainted needles with the AIDS virus in them through acupuncture, because how else could somebody die that fast of AIDS? Have you even heard of somebody dying in two weeks of AIDS bro? Come on, man. It's unheard of, bro."
HIV is just a virus. It is not—it should be noted—a biological weapon invented by a screenwriter to serve as the MacGuffin in a Mission: Impossible movie. What's more, as Wilmore Webley, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst told us, acupuncture would be a terribly ineffective way to give someone HIV.
Acupuncture needles lack the shaft and reservoir of a syringe where HIV-infected blood can hide, Webley explained, "so the probability of it actually storing enough blood or serum with enough viral particles in there to lead to an infection is extremely low."
To infect someone, the acupuncture needle would have to coated in fresh blood, or a HIV serum, "which also means that they would have had to use that needle right away," Webley continued. Moreover, HIV would most likely have to enter a blood vessel to find a hospitable place to infect, and acupuncture is superficial, and deliberately avoids blood vessels. After all, said Webley, "you're not getting up from acupuncture bleeding all over yourself."
Naturally, the acupuncture theory has other holes. Webley points out that people shouldn't make too much of the fact that Eazy E's acquaintances learned that he had the virus just two weeks before he died. "That was the time of diagnosis, not the time of infection," he said.
This type of theory can be harmful, Webley added, "especially in African-American and underrepresented minority populations where this virus continues to be a huge problem." Ludicrous rumors like this cloud people's perception of HIV and AIDS. He said in his experience, when people think of HIV as some kind of high-tech conspiracy, rather than a public health issue, "they're not as apt to take personal responsibility."
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