Gambian President Jammeh’s Claims of HIV Cure Wrong, Supporting Data False, IAS Says
The International AIDS Society in a statement released on Tuesday said that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh's claims that he can cure HIV with an herbal remedy are wrong and that some of his data supporting the treatments are false, Reuters reports (Reuters, 4/24). Jammeh since January has claimed that he can cure HIV/AIDS with a treatment that involves application of a green paste, as well as application of a gray-colored solution splashed on people's skin and drinking a yellowish tea-like liquid. Jammeh said people taking the treatment should refrain from drinking alcohol, tea and coffee; eating kola nuts; and having sex. Public health workers' biggest concern is that Jammeh would ask HIV-positive people to stop taking antiretroviral drugs, which weakens their immune systems and makes them more prone to infections, according to Antonio Filipe, World Health Organization regional adviser in Senegal (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/13). According to the IAS statement, all of the HIV-positive people who received Jammeh's treatment had been taking standard antiretrovirals but were "required to stop" their regimens to receive the treatment. The statement says that blood samples from the people receiving the treatment were sent to Souleymane Mboup, an IAS member and researcher at the University of Dakar in Senegal (Reuters, 4/24). Mboup in the statement said that samples were tested "under false pretenses." He added that a technician asked researchers at Dakar university to "test some anonymous samples, which we later learned were from patients who had received President Yammeh's treatment" (IAS release, 4/24). According to Mboup, none of Jammeh's patients had been cured. Jammeh had used the results of Mboup's analysis to support his claim. Mboup in the statement said, "The interpretation by the Gambian authorities of the results of HIV antibody and viral load testing on blood samples sent to my laboratory is incorrect." Mboup said it "is not surprising" that the viral loads in some of the samples were at undetectable levels because "these patients had been treated with [antiretrovirals] prior to the administration of the herbal treatment," adding, "Effective antiretroviral therapy can reduce HIV viral load to below levels of detection." Mboup added that there "is no known cure for AIDS" and that the tests conducted in his laboratory should not be used by Jammeh as "proof of an alleged cure for HIV" (Reuters, 4/24).
The statement is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat to view the statement.