Claims that a 'wonder drug' on sale in Swaziland can cure HIV are unfounded, an investigation has uncovered.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported last month (November 2013) that a herbal product called 3H, sold by HHH Nature Health, could cure HIV in three months.
The newspaper gave details of a doctor in Manzini who was prescribing the product, which the Times called a 'wonder drug'. It published testimonials from people (but did not give their real names) that the product 'really worked'.
The Times reported, 'Promoters of this product have said it only takes three months for an HIV patient using this product to get well, with the virus no longer detectable from their body.'
The Times gave a website address where readers could buy the formula. A four-month supply of the herbal product costs 2,400 euros (E34,000 or US$3,200).
Now, investigators from the Africa Check, a fact-checking website, have shown that 3H, along with other so-called HIV 'cures', are not what they seem.
The Times reported that the makers of the herbal formula 3H said it was 'developed and researched by a team of German scientists and doctors'.
Responding to the Times' report, Africa Check said, 'This might sound impressive at first glance but means nothing, as is often the case. Having a treatment tested is not the same as having proof that it works. How it is tested and by whom is key.'
None of this information about testing is supplied by HHH. Africa Check added, 'Instead, the main "evidence" promoted by the sellers of these products is formed of unverifiable "testimonials" from people who report or claim to be progressing "very well" and praise the promoters.'
HIV scams are nothing new in Swaziland, which has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. King Mswati III himself was caught up in one. The King endorsed a goat serum scam that was being peddled by his son Prince Lindani.
The scam was to sell goat serum that was 'totally reliable in the cure of Aids'. It involved injecting goats with HIV and creating antibodies which were then injected into people with AIDS. The scam was set to make its promoters US$100 million.
The prince even wrote a letter that was used by the fraudsters in their publicity saying his father the King backed the project.
The prince was not at the centre of the fraud: he was just a gullible dupe who got conned.