The Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has urged herbalists who claim to have a cure for HIV/AIDS to make available their herbal preparations for scientific testing or desist from deceiving the public that they had found a cure for the disease.
Such tests, it said, would determine the potency of the preparations.
According to the commission, the claims by some herbalists and leaders of prayer camps on media platforms that they have found a cure for HIV/AIDS are leading to the deaths of many people who have tested positive for the virus.
“Because of these false claims, people run to them to be cured of the disease after being on the anti-retroviral treatment which has the potency to suppress the virus but end up losing their lives through such false claims, thereby increasing the HIV/AIDS mortality and making us lose the campaign against the prevention and management of the disease in the country”, it said.
The Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of the GAC, Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, threw the challenge in an interview with the Daily Graphic after his interaction with journalists in Tamale last Tuesday.
The meeting, organised by the GAC to find out about journalists’ understanding of HIV, as well as their challenges in reporting on related issues of HIV, was attended by journalists, senior editors and regional presidents of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions, as well as heart to heart ambassadors (H2H).
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Mr Atuahene stated that no cure had been found for HIV/AIDS worldwide and explained that the commission was not against herbalists and leaders of prayer camps but “against those who are making claims that they had found cure for the disease without making available their preparations for scientific testing.”
“Let me emphasise again that the GAC is open to everyone who claims to have a herbal preparation for the cure of the disease but the person must first make it available for scientific proof before going public,” he said.
Mr Atuahene, therefore, called on the media not to offer their platforms to herbalists and leaders of prayer camps who claim to have a cure for HIV/AIDS to fleece the public without first subjecting their preparations to scientific testing.
A resident of Tamale, Langa Amadu, who said he had lived with the virus for the past 12 years, and was on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, corroborated the assertion of the GAC, saying many people who were living with the virus and were on the ARV treatment that could have prolonged their lives had died as a result of believing the false claims by some of these herbalists.
He, therefore, appealed to media organisations, especially radio and television stations, not to offer their platforms to those who were making the claims to have found a cure for HIV/AIDS to worsen the plight of those who were living with the virus.
The Northern Regional GJA President, Mr Caesar Abagali, for his part, urged the GAC to help train and build the capacity of journalists to report on all health and related issues rather than focusing just on HIV and AIDS reporting.
Participants in the meeting were also exposed to the campaign of the GAC on ending AIDS by 2030, under the 90 90 90 AIDS campaign.”
The campaign is aimed at ensuring that all persons living with HIV will know their HIV status, all persons diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained anti-retroviral treatment, and all persons receiving anti-retroviral therapy will have viral suppression to end AIDS by 2030.