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No study claims ‘being single at 30 is a disability’ and WHO not changing definition of disability

South Sudanese news site JTV published an article on 9 October 2019 with the headline “Study says being single at the age of 30s is a disability”. It was then shared on Facebook.

But there is no mention of the name of the study or any age limit in the six paragraph story. 

The article is in fact about the World Health Organization supposedly changing its definition of disability to classify people without a sexual partner as “infertile”. The article then includes reaction to this “news”.

False headline

The article claims that “according to the Telegraph”, the new WHO classification would mean single men and women, both heterosexual and gay, seeking in vitro fertilization to have a child, would receive the same priority as couples. 

The article quotes reaction from a Josephine Quintavalle and a response from “the WHO’s Dr. David Adamson”. 

However, the article published by the UK’s Telegraph newspaper that the JTV article draws heavily from was discredited, including by fact-checking organisation AFP Fact Check

Africa Check has previously discredited similar posts on social media based on the Telegraph article, claiming that the WHO will classify people who cannot find sex partners as “disabled”. 

But the original Telegraph article – which the WHO also disputed soon after publication – did not say anything about any “study” or mention the age of 30. 

‘WHO has not changed its definition of infertility’

Christian Lindemeier, a WHO spokesperson, told Africa Check that the WHO has not changed its definition of infertility.  

He said that the WHO “does not make any recommendations about the provision of fertility care services”.

The headline of the article on JTV is false – it does not relate to the substance of the article. The claims made in the article itself are also false. – Motunrayo Joel


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