‘Be on look­out for un­sci­en­tific HIV cure claims’

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

FIRST Lady Amai Aux­il­lia Mnan­gagwa says phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try reg­u­la­tors should tighten their sur­veil­lance and mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems to pro­tect pa­tients from fake medicines.

At the 30th World Aids Day com­mem­o­ra­tions at Ru­jeko Sec­ondary School in Glen­dale (Mashona­land Cen­tral) yes­ter­day, the First Lady also said in­di­vid­u­als who rushed to make untested claims about herbal or spir­i­tual cures should be ex­posed.

Her in­ter­ven­tion fol­lows re­cent claims by Prophetic Heal­ing and De­liv­er­ance Min­istries leader, Mr Wal­ter Ma­gaya, that he had dis­cov­ered a cure for HIV and Aids, al­beit with­out fol­low­ing req­ui­site pro­ce­dures.

He later re­canted the claims, be­fore be­ing ar­rested for al­legedly con­tra­ven­ing the Medicines and Al­lied Sub­stances Act, which crim­i­nalises dis­tri­bu­tion and mislead­ing ad­ver­tise­ment of medicines.

This year’s World Aids Day was themed “Know Your Sta­tus”. With ref­er­ence to the UNAids 90-9090 strat­egy, Amai Mnan­gagwa said Zim­babwe had made huge strides in curb­ing the spread of HIV through its an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment pro­gramme.

The strat­egy refers to the three tar­gets of di­ag­nos­ing 90 per­cent of all HIV-pos­i­tive per­sons, pro­vide ART to 90 per­cent of those di­ag­nosed, and achieve vi­ral sup­pres­sion for 90 per­cent of those treated by 2020.

The First Lady said: “A ro­bust cam­paign for peo­ple to know their sta­tus will have to be backed by a strong ART de­liv­ery pack­age in line with the Test-and-Treat Ap­proach to en­sure that HIV pos­i­tive peo­ple re­ceive im­me­di­ate treat­ment. Avail­abil­ity of treat­ment has been one of the ma­jor ways we have ad­dressed stigma. With nearly 1,2 mil­lion peo­ple on ARV treat­ment, our cov­er­age to­wards the sec­ond 90 is at 87 per­cent, while vi­ral load sup­pres­sion is also at 87 per­cent.

“We need to push and rev­o­lu­tionise ART de­liv­ery, with em­pha­sis on com­mu­nity-based ini­tia­tives in or­der to score even highly in the fast­track tar­gets. Let me stress that ARVs are the only known method for re­vers­ing Aids and sup­press­ing vi­ral load. As such, I would like to call on health and drug watch dog in­sti­tu­tions to re­main vig­i­lant against any peo­ple who make un­sci­en­tific claims about any herbal or spir­i­tual dis­cov­er­ies of Aids treat­ment.”

Amai Mnan­gagwa said vol­un­tary HIV test­ing should be vig­or­ously pur­sued while pre­ven­tion of mother-to-child trans­mis­sion must be scaled up.

“As we com­mem­o­rate World Aids Day, we need to think about ways in which we can pro­mote up­take of test­ing for HIV and screen­ing for other sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions, can­cers and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis. We need to vig­or­ously pro­mote HIV test­ing, par­tic­u­larly among preg­nant women, youths, ado­les­cent girls and young women, sex work­ers, and other hard to reach key pop­u­la­tions.”

The First Lady con­tin­ued: “As a mother, I can­not bring my­self to ac­cept that a child can be born with HIV just be­cause the mother re­fused or did not get an op­por­tu­nity to get tested for HIV to pre­vent her child from be­ing born with the virus. Let’s pause for a mo­ment and ask our­selves what we want for our chil­dren and na­tion? We can put a stop to that as a na­tion and no child ever again should be born with HIV.”

Health and Child Care Min­is­ter Dr Oba­diah Moyo weighed in say­ing those who claim to have found the cure for HIV and Aids should sub­mit their prod­ucts for test­ing.

“My min­istry will al­ways de­mand that cor­rect sci­en­tific pro­ce­dure be fol­lowed in deter­min­ing the treat­ment po­ten­tial and ef­fec­tive­ness of herbal reme­dies in man­ag­ing HIV and Aids. This is an area where solid ev­i­dence is re­quired to en­sure that we do not un­nec­es­sar­ily risk the lives of our peo­ple who are al­ready sta­ble on an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy.

“I am there­fore call­ing upon all those that be­lieve they have found the treat­ment for HIV to link up with re­searchers to au­then­ti­cate their claims, through laid down pro­ce­dures and ex­am­i­na­tions, which guar­an­tee pro­tec­tion of peo­ple.”

Dr Moyo said Gov­ern­ment would be­gin pro­mot­ing use of self-test kits, while pre and post-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis drugs would be made read­ily avail­able.

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