In an effort to combat HIV/AIDS fraud, members and representatives of local AIDS organizations along with the Food and Drug Administration formed GATIN, the Georgia AIDS Therapy Information Network.
When people are confronted with illnesses like AIDS, they often desperately try almost anything that "promises" to help. Some of these alternative treatments may be helpful, or at the very least harmless, while others can be very dangerous or even deadly.
Some recent examples brought to GATIN's attention include:
- Immune system "booster" capsules were promoted as a remedy, but were found to contain heavy metals such as chromium that can cause anemia, central nervous system problems and kidney failure.
- One product being brought into the United States from the Caribbean turned out to be contaminated with HIV and hepatitis B viruses.
- A company was pushing plastic covers for public telephones and toilets which are supposed to act as barriers to HIV infection. Not only do these products not have any scientific validity, they also contribute to irrational fears that HIV can be spread by casual contact.
- The use of products or services that don't work may also delay you from getting proper medical care. Though there is presently no cure for AIDS, the treatments are out there to extend and improve the quality of your life.
Ask yourself the following questions before beginning any AIDS treatment:
- Can the supplier/manufacturer give me some additional information about this product to study while I think about it?
- What are the risks and side effects of this product, is it worth the risk, and what do I have to give up to use it?
- Is this product or treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this usage, and if not, why?
- What are the credentials and motives of the persons who are promoting this product and what do they have to gain?
You will soon see posters alerting the public to this serious problem. Initially the posters will be seen on MARTA train platforms and buses [in Atlanta]. GATIN has set up two ways for you to report suspect products or services. GATIN provides a toll-free hotline (Georgia AIDS Info-Line) 1-800-551-2728 or visit GATIN's web site at www.gatin.com. There you will find more common fraudulent techniques of which we need to be aware.