Metro Weekly

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Claims Poppers Cause AIDS in Viral Video

Democratic candidate and prominent anti-vaxxer asserts that poppers cause AIDS and chemicals in the water are making children transgender.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency, made eye-opening claims that using poppers causes AIDS and chemicals are responsible for turning children transgender.

The son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy Sr. and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy was caught on video wielding outlandish claims and promoting false conspiracy theories.

On April 29, Kennedy announced his intention to challenge incumbent President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. He is considered a significant underdog in that race, which will end when a nominee is selected at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, in August of 2024.

In a recent video unearthed by PatriotTakes, a Twitter page “dedicated to monitoring and exposing right-wing extremism and other threats to democracy,” Kennedy is seen promoting several unfounded or factually inaccurate claims. 

“There’s a lot of people that said it is not a virus,” Kennedy said during a riff on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “The virus is a passenger virus, and these people are dying mainly because of poppers. 

“A hundred percent of the people who died in the first thousand [with] AIDS were people who were addicted to poppers, which are known to cause Kaposi sarcoma in rats. And they were people who were part of a gay lifestyle where they were burning the candle at both ends,” he said.

“There were poppers on sale everywhere at the gay bars. And there were a number of people in the [National Institutes of Health] who said, ‘This is not a viral disease, but it’s a disease that is environmental and is being caused to people who are getting autoimmunity from doing these toxins,’” added Kennedy. “But for Tony Fauci, it was really important to call it a virus because that made it an infectious disease, and it allowed him to take control of it.”

Kennedy may have been referring to a debunked theory from the 1980s in which a few researchers thought using poppers would lead to the transmission of AIDS. However, this theory was developed before scientists understood that the virus was spread through unprotected sex and has since been unequivocally disproven

In another recent video published on TikTok, Kennedy starts by talking about the recent increase in depression among children and ends by claiming a common herbicide, atrazine, is making children, especially boys, transgender. 

“I see these huge levels of depression and despair, loneliness in kids, and I don’t think that there’s a single cause to it, and I think blaming it on depression about climate is probably over-simplistic,” Kennedy told Canadian far right-wing political commentator Jordan Peterson.

“A lot of the problems we see in kids, and particularly boys, it’s probably underappreciated that how much of that is coming from chemical exposures, including a lot of the sexual dysphoria that we’re seeing,” he said.

“They are swimming through a toxic soup of chemicals, and many of those are endocrine disruptors. There’s atrazine throughout our water supply,” Kennedy added. 

“If you in a lab put atrazine in a tank full of frogs, it will chemically castrate and forcibly feminize every frog in there, and 10 percent of the frogs, the male frogs will turn into fully viable females able to produce viable eggs. If it’s doing that to frogs, there’s a lot of other evidence that it’s doing it to human beings as well,” he claimed.

However, atrazine “does not alter or damage genes in humans or animals,” according to the National Pesticide Information Center.

According to The Advocate, the National Pesticide Information Center also confirmed there have been no reports of gender changes in people from atrazine exposure. The chemical was introduced to the public in 1958 and it is “low in toxicity,” according to the EPA.

When making these claims, Kennedy may have been referencing a 2010 study that found exposure to atrazine in certain amphibians did turn the males infertile or caused some to develop viable eggs. This study was a favorite of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as he thought it was part of a government plot to turn people gay. 

Both Kennedy and Jones made unfounded leaps from the frog-related findings, claiming it had similar effects on humans. Amphibians are not only a different species from humans, they are in a different class. The findings cannot be extrapolated to humans.

In the past Kennedy has compared the COVID-19 vaccine measures to the Holocaust and blamed antidepressants, like Prozac, for school shootings.

Kennedy’s support in some circles, despite his outlandish remarks, show that Democratic voters are not immune to falling prey to the types of conspiracy theories that have earned Republicans negative media coverage.

Kennedy’s remarks — and his underdog status in the Democratic primary — also highlight his extended family’s waning influence within Democratic circles. While for many years, the Kennedys were one of the most powerful families in the political scene, their sway over the Democratic Party has significantly declined since the death of Kennedy’s uncle, Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, in 2009. In 2020, the last member of the family to hold public office, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), ran for the U.S. Senate, losing the Democratic primary to current Sen. Ed Markey.

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