There is no cure for Aids. Not Garani-MW-1, not chambe, not the Gambian president’s cure, not Ubhejane, not Hootone. There is medical treatment in the form of antiretroviral drugs which a doctor will prescribe for you. Fake cures can cause harm as they may contain toxic products, even if they say “herbal” or “natural” this is no guarantee of safety. “Cures” are often heralded by fraudulent claims and shady evidence. Peddlers at times may recommend their clients to stop taking antiretroviral treatment, putting their patients’ lives at grave risk.
Fake cures have been around for as long as HIV was discovered. Fake cures have emerged all over the world from the use of geckos in The Philippines, Testrasil in Zambia which was later found to be a pesticide used to clean swimming pools, to oxytherapy in Mexico. Peddlers of fake drugs are not limited to radical individuals but also involve large corporations. In 2011, the American Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Immunosyn Corp., the makers of a “cure-all HIV drug” made from goat’s blood, of swindling $20 million from investors.
Things to look out for: Who is making the claims? What are the claims? What is in the cure? What evidence do they offer? Try and find out who the person is promoting this product. Are they medically qualified from a reputable organisation? Has the product recently been tested by an accredited organisation like the Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board of Malawi.
Be mindful of the terminology they use, be cautious of words like “miracle breakthroughs.” Check their scientific wording, an expert would never use the term HIV virus, either they would say HIV or virus never both.
Is it clearly labelled? Can you tell what is in the product? Many hoax inventors refuse to reveal their ingredients. Ask them why? Remember that “natural” or “herbal” are not a guarantee of safety or the “treatment” working.
How do they demonstrate that their “cure” works? If they are not giving you data from an actual large scale human clinical trial of their drug, then you should be sceptical. Treat with suspicion peddlers who use anecdotes and personal testimonies. Personal testimonies are never trustworthy and in some cases, people have been paid to pretend that they have been cured. Changes in symptoms or improvement in weight are not signs of being “cured”. It is also difficult to determine that the “cure” is responsible for improvements in health.
Watch out for conspiracy theories! If you can do some research and have access to the Internet, read up on the “cure” on reputable websites such as Avert.org or aidsmap.com or mainstream media such as BBC, CNN or the Guardian.
Remember that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.