7 February 2017

Nigeria Aids Agency Warns Against HIV Cure 'Publicity'

The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Sani Aliyu, has expressed displeasure with the publicity given to the claim of a cure for HIV/AIDS by a Nigerian professor.

Mr. Aliyu, in a statement by his office on Monday, said it was a great disservice to the vulnerable group of HIV patients for the media to disseminate such claims in the absence of scientific evidence.

Maduike Ezeibe, who is a Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture in Umuahia, Aba State, had claimed he had produced a drug that could cure HIV.

He said the drug he produced with "Aluminium Magnesium Silicate" had been successfully tested on ten persons living with HIV.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, on Monday disclosed that the Federal Government had mandated the National Institute for Medical Research and the College of Medicine, Ibadan to do a proper study of claims of HIV cure in the country.

While responding to questions on the position of government on the claims at a Town Hall meeting in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr. Adewole said getting a cure would be of public health interest to the country but that any claim would have to be subjected to standard scrutiny.

"We are concerned that the publicity given to these claims will stop patients with HIV from taking life-saving antiretrovirals and give them false hope of a cure," the NACA Director General said on the claim in the statement on Monday.

"There are long established, tried and tested routes for the discovery, development and validation of modern medicines before they can be registered and used for treatment in humans and animals.

Mr. Aliyu called on academics to follow legal and scientifically-acceptable methods in conducting their researches and to avoid making premature claims that are capable of derailing the huge progress made in the last two decades in the war against HIV/AIDS.

"Millions of lives have been saved as a result of modern antiretroviral treatment and people living with HIV can now look forward to a normal healthy future", he said.

Aliyu also calls on editors of media houses in Nigeria to seek comments from the leadership of the relevant government parastatals and professional bodies when it receives new research findings related to the agency's areas of responsibility.

"We assure you that we will respond rapidly and constructively to any queries", he stated.

He also encouraged people living with HIV to continue to take their medication and to see their doctors if they have any concern or call the NACA helpline (6222) for information.

Nigeria has about three million people infected with HIV, the second highest number in the world after South Africa.

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