By Sola Ogundipe
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, has dismissed an HIV cure claim by Professor Maduike Ezeibe, a Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abia State.
In a statement entitled “Re: Nigerian scientist conquers HIV/AIDS”, Director General of the Agency, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said there was no basis for a claim to the cure of AIDS as described in the study presented by Ezeibe.
Media reports had quoted Ezeibe as saying that the drug, produced with “Aluminium Magnesium Silicate” was tested on 10 persons living with HIV. It was also reported that a clinical outcome of an ability to “reach all cells” and making HIV “a conquered organism”.
Aliyu said: “The claim for a HIV/AIDS cure is not new. It is also not new to find a scientist using ambiguous scientific methods and practices to buttress this claim, and to find obscure journals increasingly prepared to publish these claims.”
Examining the facts, The NACA DG who said the study quoted by Ezeibe did not follow standard ethical protocols for clinical trials, also noted that there was no evidence from the publication that the authors obtained ethical clearance from an appropriate body in Nigeria to conduct this study, and only ambiguous evidence that informed consent was sought from the evidently vulnerable patients.
“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. It will be a great disservice to this vulnerable group of patients for the media to disseminate these claims in the absence of sound scientific evidence. “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.
He urged all academics to follow legal and scientifically acceptable methods in conducting their research and to avoid making premature claims that are capable of derailing the huge progress made in the last two decades on the war against HIV/AIDS.
Aliyu also urged 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 our areas of responsibility.
“We call on all patients living with HIV that are currently taking their medications to continue to do so and to see their doctors if they have any concern. The NACA helpline (6222) is available on working days from 8am-8pm for members of the public seeking more information on HIV disease,” he affirmed.