Zambian Government Launches Clinical Trial of Three Herbal Remedies To Treat HIV/AIDS
The Zambian government on Wednesday announced it has begun clinical trials testing three herbal medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, BBC News reports. Zambian Health Minister Sylvia Masebo during a news conference in the capital Lusaka said that 25 HIV-positive people will take part in a three-month trial that will conform to World Health Organization guidelines (BBC News, 10/19). Patrick Chikusu, principal investigator of clinical trials of traditional herbal remedies, identified the three remedies being studied as: the Sondashi formulation, made by former Works and Supply Minister Ludwig Sondashi; the Mailacin formulation made by a school teacher; and the Mayeyanin formulation. Chikusu said each of the formulations is safe to use and each has shown evidence of reducing HIV viral loads and increasing the number of CD4+ T cells. He added that 14 natural remedies were initially submitted but only three made it to clinical trials (Shacinda, Reuters, 10/19). The government is expected to spend about $56,000 on various clinical trials testing traditional drugs that owners of the medicines claim can cure HIV, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/19). "It is a momentous occasion for Zambia, which establishes a partnership between conventional medicine and traditional medicine," Masebo said. Genevieve Clark, communications director for the United Kingdom-based HIV/AIDS charity group Terrence Higgins Trust, said, "Anything that boosts the immune system helps." However, she added that 25 people are not a large enough group to conduct a "proper clinical trial" and that "[h]erbal remedies have not been proven to help [treat HIV/AIDS]. ... The only thing proven is antiretroviral drugs" (BBC News, 10/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.