Heimlich Announces Plans To Test Malariotherapy on HIV-Positive Patients in Several African Nations
Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the anti-choking method known as the Heimlich maneuver, is working with doctors in several African countries to begin human tests of a controversial AIDS therapy in which patients are deliberately infected with malaria, Reuters reports. Heimlich, founder of the Cincinnati-based Heimlich Institute, believes that injecting a patient with a curable form of malaria in order to induce a high fever could cause the immune system to fight HIV. He presented research on the technique in October 2002 at the Pan Africa AIDS Conference in Nashville, Tenn., and has said that doctors from five African countries have expressed interest in the treatment. Heimlich said that researchers have "reached the roof" with antiretroviral drugs, adding, "We need to treat the immune system." However, the controversial treatment theory has "drawn the ire of the medical establishment," according to Reuters. Mark Harrington, executive director of the Treatment Action Group, said, "This comes up periodically, but malaria has never worked for anything. ... If Heimlich is really doing this, he should be put in jail." Harrington and some other HIV/AIDS advocates "question the ethics" of a treatment method that infects patients with another disease. Harrington said, "Malaria kills three million people every year, and there seems to be evidence that malaria worsens HIV. ... [T]hese are huge, huge ethical issues" (Beasley, Reuters, 4/14).
UCLA Not Involved in Research
In February, the University of California-Los Angeles announced that it is reopening an investigation into two researchers' possible involvement in a malariotherapy study in which AIDS patients in China were injected with malaria-infected blood. A UCLA institutional review board in December 2002 said in a statement that it had uncovered "no evidence" linking university microbiology professor John Fahey and his associate Najib Aziz to the experiments. However, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that it obtained documents showing that the two researchers had been involved with the studies since 1996, including memos to Heimlich that referred to the malariotherapy study as "striking" and offered help to continue the research through UCLA. Both Fahey and Aziz have said that they were not involved in the studies, and UCLA officials have asked Heimlich to "omit UCLA from all references relating to malaria studies or other Heimlich Institute research," adding, "Any claims of an affiliation with UCLA are inaccurate" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/19).