A screenshot of one of the Facebook posts.
A screenshot of one of the Facebook posts. Image by Facebook

Journalist’s health battle misused as anti-vaccine propaganda

Nik Dirga March 22, 2024

A Fox News journalist has been diagnosed with ‘turbo cancer’ and 'VAIDS' after receiving the COVID vaccine.


False. The journalist has been diagnosed with a rare appendix cancer. Turbo cancer and VAIDS are not real medical conditions.

Social media users claim a Fox News journalist has been diagnosed with “turbo cancer” and “VAIDS” – or vaccine-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome – after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

This is false. Disinformation websites have taken the journalist’s heartfelt opinion piece about her health issues and added false medical claims to produce anti-vaccination propaganda.

Experts have told AAP FactCheck “turbo cancer” and “VAIDS” are fictitious medical conditions which are popular claims in the conspiracy community.

The claim was made in a March 7 article (archived here) on disinformation site The People’s Voice, operated by Sean Adl-Tabatabai, a serial misinformation spreader who regularly churns out deceptive clickbait stories.

A person is given a COVID-19 vaccination (file image)
 Vaccine-induce AIDS and turbo cancer are not real medical conditions. 

The article claims: “Fox News journalist Ashley Papa has been diagnosed with turbo cancer and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (VAIDS) after being forced to take the mRNA vaccine by her employer.”

“The respected journalist and mother of one said she was left devastated after discovering she had the two ‘rare’ disorders following the forced COVID jab,” it goes on to claim, before reprinting Ms Papa’s opinion piece about her cancer diagnosis, published on the Fox News website on February 17.

However, The People’s Voice has misrepresented Ms Papa’s op-ed and added blatant falsehoods. The claim is being shared widely on other misinformation websites and social media, as seen here, here, here and here.

Ms Papa’s original piece makes no claims about vaccination-induced illness.

Titled “I’m a 40-year-old mom and wife with Stage 4 cancer. Here’s what I want you to know”, it is about her diagnosis of a rare appendix cancer, and mentions an earlier diagnosis of the rare lung disease lymphangioleiomyomatosis.

Nowhere does she mention COVID vaccines, “VAIDS”, “turbo cancer” or accuse her workplace of forcing her to get vaccinated. 

AAP FactCheck attempted to contact Ms Papa, who is undergoing cancer treatment, but did not receive a response.

The phrases “turbo cancer” and “VAIDS” are frequently seen in anti-vaccination posts online.

Anti-vaccine activists have made many claims that COVID vaccines somehow cause accelerated cancer or “turbo cancer”.

Fact-check organisations including AFP FactCheck, Reuters and the Associated Press have debunked claims linking COVID vaccines to cancer or so-called turbo cancer.

Claims COVID-19 vaccines cause a kind of AIDS-like immune deficiency disorder dubbed ‘VAIDS’ have been circulating on social media since the pandemic began.

AAP FactCheck debunked claims about ‘VAIDS’ in 2022, when Dr Daryl Cheng, from the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre said: “VAIDS is not a phenomenon or syndrome that we have observed or has been demonstrated in both clinical trials and also real-world COVID-19 vaccine data.”

The term “VAIDS” does not appear in internationally recognised medical databases.

Multiple fact-check organisations have dismissed claims of the existence of VAIDS, including Health Feedback, Reuters, and the Associated Press.

The Verdict

The claim a Fox News journalist was diagnosed with “turbo cancer” and “VAIDS” after being forced to have a COVID-19 vaccine is false.

The journalist wrote an opinion column about her experience of being diagnosed with a rare appendix cancer.

Nowhere in the piece does she mention vaccination, turbo cancer or VAIDS, which are imagined medical conditions frequently mentioned in anti-vaccine literature.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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