Experimental herbal remedies are compromising the fight against HIV/AIDS, says clinical care specialist at the Ministry of Heath, Crispin Moyo.
Dr Moyo said Herbal medication was an important aid to many ailments but that there was no scientific evidence on its effects on the HIV virus.
“Herbal medications are an important adjuvant to many ailments. However, for HIV we cannot afford untested remedies. In fact even some penicillin has a plant origin,” he said.
Dr Moyo explained that herbal remedies like the famous Sondashi Formula were not treatment for HIV/AIDS as evidenced by the number of fatalities of patients who stopped taking antiretroviral drugs for the local herb.
He said most patients that stopped the antiretroviral therapy have continued to die despite being on the herbal treatment.
“People are dying; and this is official. The take-home message is that people are dying once they stop ARVs,” he said.
Dr Moyo said people on the ARV therapy have been tested and scientific proof was available that their viral load became fully suppressed, meaning the virus becomes undetectable in blood.
He said the comparison could be seen in the blood sugar, which if the treatment was working there would have no trace of blood sugar in their urine, but that it was not an indication for a cure.
He said if one starts the ART, it was safe as the virus stops being seen in tests.
He announced that currently, about 600 000 people were eligible for treatment according to the Ministry of Health criteria, and encouraged voluntary testing as the only entry point to treatment.
Dr Moyo has since appealed for increased sensitization among the people through various community organisations and associations including the church, at school and the media.