U.N. Representative Ordered to Leave Gambia After Questioning President's Claims of HIV /AIDS Cure
February 27, 2007
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has ordered United Nations representative Fadzai Gwaradzimba to leave the country after she questioned Jammeh's claim that he can cure HIV/AIDS with an herbal remedy, VOA News reports (VOA News, 2/23). 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 asks 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, 2/22). According to VOA News, Gwaradzimba last week during an interview with the British television station Sky News questioned whether there is scientific proof that Jammeh's treatment is effective (VOA News, 2/23). In addition, Gwaradzimba said Jammeh's claims could encourage high-risk sexual behavior because people might "wrongly believe there is a cure" if they become HIV-positive. Gambian authorities earlier this month fired two journalists at a newspaper in the country because Jammeh did not approve of their reports on his treatment. The journalists were given back their jobs after about four days, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 2/23).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.