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Four die for alleged use of herbal HIV treatment in Gombe

The Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) in Gombe State, on Thursday, announced that four of its members died for allegedly using herbal HIV treatment.

The programme officer of the association, Mr Muhammad Ibrahim, stated this in Gombe at an event to commemorate the 2023 World AIDS Day.

Ibrahim said the spate of the use of herbal therapy for HIV treatment in the state had been a source of concern due to the increased patronage of such unorthodox medications by its members.

He stressed the need for the government and stakeholders to regulate and check the circulation of alternative HIV treatment in the state.

According to Ibrahim, a lot of HIV positive patients that are desperately searching for cure are opting for herbal remedy, adding that many have died as a result of wrong medication.

“A lot of our members are subscribing and using herbal medicine based on the information being spread by the hawkers of traditional medicine who are everywhere in Gombe.

“These people are openly advertising and claiming that they have discovered the treatment of HIV, and as a result, a lot of our people are buying the medicine.

“There is no scientific proof that the herbal treatments are real, so we want the government to look into this and do the needful.

“Anybody that claims to have found treatment for HIV should be identified and invited by the government to verify his claims and certify it before public sales and use,” Ibrahim said.

Also commenting, Dr Habu Dahiru, the state’s Commissioner for Health, said there was no scientific proof that herbs could cure the disease.

Dahiru advised NEPWHAN members and all those living with HIV to desist from using herbal medicines to treat the disease, adding that such concoctions damage vital organs.

“We do not have any scientific evidence that herbal medicines are working but anti retroviral drugs are working and when we do the viral load test, you see it reducing, it is scientific.

“Herbal medicines have side effects, especially damage the liver and kidney.

“We have always discouraged the use of a remedy that has not been certified. To use a drug or herbal in treating a certain illness it has to undergo various stages of test and certification before approval.

“We have not heard of any herbal that has been certified for HIV treatment,” he said.

On the fight against the scourge, Dahiru said the state had achieved a lot in reducing disease burden.

He said the state achieved 95 per cent of suspected cases tested and placed on medication, adding that 95 per cent of those placed on medication have achieved viral suppression.

“This is good feat for the state,” he said, adding that the state would maintain the feat, boost testing and encourage the use of ART among positive persons.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World AIDS Day is commemorated on Dec. 1, and the theme for this year is “Let communities lead”.

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