The Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) in Gombe State reported that four of its members allegedly died after using herbal treatments for HIV.
On Thursday, November 30, Mr. Muhammad Ibrahim, the association’s programme officer, revealed this information during a Gombe event honouring the 2023 World AIDS Day.
Ibrahim voiced concerns regarding the state’s increasing adoption of herbal therapy for HIV treatment, noting that more of its members are now using these non-traditional drugs.
He emphasized the necessity for government and stakeholders to regulate and monitor the circulation of alternative HIV treatments in the state.
According to Ibrahim, many HIV-positive patients, in their desperate search for a cure, are turning to herbal remedies, resulting in numerous deaths due to incorrect 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.
The state’s commissioner of health, Dr. Habu Dahiru, also offered commentary on the subject, claiming that there is no scientific proof to back up the notion that using herbs can treat the illness.
Dahiru stressed that using herbal remedies to treat HIV should be avoided by NEPWHAN members and all other HIV-positive people, as these mixtures have the potential to damage important 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.
Regarding the battle against the scourge, Dahiru mentioned that the state has made significant strides in reducing the disease burden.
He highlighted that the state has successfully tested and provided medication for 95 percent of suspected cases. Furthermore, 95 percent of those placed on medication have achieved viral suppression.