HIV/AIDS "Cure" Promoted by Gambian President Has Increased Use of Antiretrovirals, Reduced Stigma Associated With Disease
November 5, 2008
An herbal treatment that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh in January 2007 claimed to be a cure for HIV/AIDS has had an "unanticipated" outcome on the fight against the disease in the country, according to some HIV/AIDS experts, IRIN News reports. The experts say that rather than drawing HIV-positive people toward the herbal cure, it has increased the use of antiretroviral drugs and reduced the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Although Jammeh continues to provide his treatment, IRIN News reports that he also is now a supporter of the National AIDS Secretariat, which coordinates clinics, not-for-profit organizations and other groups to provide antiretroviral treatment throughout The Gambia. NAS Director Alieu Jammeh said he considers the president's treatment as "complementary" to antiretrovirals. However, although the treatment has worked to reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma in the country, Alieu Jammeh said more needs to be done to stop discrimination, particularly among at-risk groups. According to Alieu Jammeh, a national strategy on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment that would achieve basic steps -- such as ensuring the safety of blood stocks once people are tested and monitoring prevalence rates -- is needed. He added that NAS currently is working on a five-year proposal with the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to fund this work. Alieu Jammeh said, "We cannot be complacent. We want to make sure we halt prevalence rates and reverse it" (IRIN News, 11/3).
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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.