Zambian Government Announces That Reported HIV/AIDS Cure Found to Be Pesticide

The Zambian government on Friday announced that a widely reported HIV/AIDS cure, called Tetrasil, has been found to be a pesticide, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. According to Albert Mwango, a government specialist in HIV/AIDS drugs, Tetrasil also can be used as a disinfectant (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/1).

Some people living with HIV/AIDS in Zambia are abandoning their antiretroviral drug regimens for ineffective drugs that have been promoted in the media as cures for the disease, the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV and AIDS said recently. One of Zambia's weekly newspapers recently published a story saying that a cure for AIDS had been discovered in the U.S. and that the newspaper's editor was the authorized dealer of the therapy in Zambia. In addition, a traditional herbalist appeared on a live radio program and said that she had discovered a cure for AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/22).

According to Mwango, Tetrasil has "not been proven by any scientific means that it cures AIDS." He added, "But what has been proven is that it is a pesticide, which was used to disinfect swimming pools."

The Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign, which represents people living with HIV/AIDS, filed a complaint with the government asking it to ban Tetrasil because some people living with the disease are abandoning their treatment regimens. TALC program manager Felix Mwanza said that Edgar Ngoma -- owner of the newspaper that has been promoting the pesticide -- has administered Tetrasil to HIV-positive people "before clinical trials are conducted."

Ministry of Health Secretary Simon Miti said that the government has written to Ngoma asking him to follow procedures before administering Tetrasil. "We have a duty to protect lives of our citizens," Miti said, adding, "For a drug to be ingested, it has to be certified by the Pharmaceuticals Regulatory Authority" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/1).

In addition, the health ministry has summoned Ngoma and his partner in the U.S., Boyd Graves, to appear before a parliamentary committee and answer questions about Tetrasil. According to James Simpungwe, health director of clinical services at the health ministry, Ngoma and Graves could face prosecution if they do not submit a sample of Tetrasil for testing (Xinhuanet, 6/2).

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