Did Eazy-E Get HIV From Acupuncture Needles? Science Says Probably Not

We bring the science to the latest wave of speculation over the NWA rapper's death.

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The debut of Straight Outta Compton has unleashed a new wave of speculation into NWA rapper Eazy-E’s 1995 death from complications of AIDS. Perhaps inevitable, theories have proliferated.

The latest possible revelation comes from Eazy’s protege Frost, who said in an interview for an upcoming documentary that he’s certain his friend contracted HIV from an infected acupuncture needle. Frost went on to say that this was an assassination, not an accident.

That’s a crazy story. But just because something doesn’t sound credible doesn’t mean it isn’t, so we looked into the literature on acupuncture and infection.

The most common means of transmission for HIV are unprotected sex and needle sharing. Though an acupuncture needle wouldn’t transmit infection as effectively as a hypodermic needle — which can hold blood up inside its hollow core — it’s still technically possible according to a team of scientists at the University of Hong Kong, who took up this issue and published a their research in 2010.

“Although no clear evidence exists to support a link between acupuncture and HIV infection, there are reports of patients with HIV who had no risk factors other than acupuncture,” the authors wrote.

Acupuncture needle or murder weapon?

Acid Pix on Flickr

Frost says he’s sure acupuncture was the source of infection because of how quickly Eazy-E died after he got sick. “How else can somebody die that fast to AIDS?” he asked, perhaps rhetorically.

Ironically, this actually points to the biggest hole in his theory. It takes an average of 10 years for untreated HIV to progress into full-blown AIDS, meaning Eazy was likely infected years and years before he fell ill.

If the alleged plotters of Eazy’s death really wanted to see him go quickly, they would have been hard pressed to come up with a more nonsensical way to go about it. Is it possible? Absolutely. But it’s far from likely.