…I’m sure they’ll be happy to see that Gambia’s president is curing AIDS:
From the pockets of his billowing white robe, Gambia’s president pulls out a plastic container, closes his eyes in prayer and rubs a green herbal paste onto the rib cage of the patient — a concoction he claims is a cure for AIDS.
He then orders the thin man to swallow a bitter yellow drink, followed by two bananas.
“Whatever you do, there are bound to be skeptics, but I can tell you my method is foolproof,” President Yahya Jammeh told an Associated Press reporter, surrounded by bodyguards in his presidential compound. “Mine is not an argument, mine is a proof. It’s a declaration. I can cure AIDS and I will.”
Foolproof, y’hear? Who needs research when we have an assurance like that?
More after the jump…
The only good news about this is that, as far as African countries go, Gambia’s rate of infection is still fairly low–the article puts it at 1.3%. Additionally, Jammeh hasn’t publicized (yet) what the “cure” is comprised of, so for now, patients must be treated by him individually–you can’t make it in your own backyard. However, he does require that patients go off their antiretroviral meds in order to be “cured” by him. (Patients must also forgo coffee, tea, alcohol, and sex). But hey, he backs it up with science!:
Jammeh has gone to great lengths to prove his claim, sending blood samples of the first nine patients to a lab in Senegal for testing. A letter on the lab’s stationery indicates that of the nine, four had undetectable viral loads, one had a moderate viral load and three had high loads, a result posted on the government’s Web site as proof of a cure.
This is problematic, though, for a number of reasons. First, as noted in the article, there was no baseline measurement taken for this. Those who had undetectable viral loads easily could have had them at that level prior to treatment, so it can’t be said that the treatment reduced the viral levels in the blood. Second, one with “moderate” and three with high viral loads–and he’s touting that as “proof” of his cure?
Of course, in the end, it all comes down to the anecdotal evidence, science be damned:
“It feels as if the president took the pain out of my body,” Ousman Sowe, 54, told the AP. Diagnosed with HIV in 1996, he is among the first nine men and women Jammeh has treated and has been under the Gambian leader’s care for nearly a month.
“My appetite has come back and I have gained weight,” said Lamin Ceesay, thin from a nine-year battle with HIV.
Small comfort, I suppose, that at least they’re not claiming that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS (as far as I know; otherwise, the viral load tests would seem to be rather pointless).
And of course, what would a magical cure be without invoking god?
Jammeh then held up the Quran, pointing it at each of the patients: “In the name of Allah, in three to 30 days you will all be cured,” he said.