The Truck Driver's Cure for AIDS

|

It's easy to giggle at the stories about Africans ditching Western methods for witchdoctor quackery, until you read an item like this, from the Baltimore Sun.

The 35-year-old high school teacher named Bheki was lucky to be alive, thanks to the free antiretroviral pills that kept his HIV in check. He felt strong and had no side effects. Life was normal, as normal as it gets with an incurable disease.

Then in February, he ditched the pills and started taking a mystery potion sold here outside Durban. It is made by a former truck driver who says his late grandfather came to him in dreams with the recipe for an herbal drink that could reverse HIV's march to full-blown AIDS and death. Eager to banish from his body the virus that stalks one in five South African adults, Bheki instead found himself sicker than ever. Three months later, he begged his doctor to put him back on antiretrovirals, only to find that he has built up a resistance that makes the pills less effective.

After more than a decade of AIDS, too many South Africans remain to be convinced that antivirals can be trusted; they trust the contents of a jug over the contents of an American bottle. The creator of the junk is unapologetic.

Zeblon Gwala, who makes uBhejane and whose supporters include the mayor of Durban, defends his product… "I never say it is a cure; my staff would never say that. I say uBhejane is healing people who [cannot work]. I'm waiting for the result from scientific people to say what uBhejane does, a cure or whatever."

Or whatever.

(cross-posted at AS.com)

Advertisement

NEXT: Blocking the Vote

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There are plenty of Americans who go in for “holistic medicine” and other such snake oil. We’re hardly in a position to snicker at other countries.

  2. they trust the contents of a jug over the contents of an American bottle.

    they trust [a chiropractor] over [a doctor].

  3. Pilight makes an excellent point…

    Weigel shows promise in his own snarky, wise-ass manner,
    Totten is definitely value added,
    and Cox has sucked since abandoning cocks as subject matter.

    2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

  4. trust an American bottle

    I don’t blame them. Big-Pharma is only in it for the profit. Hasn’t anyone seen A Constant Gardener?

  5. some chiropractors are quacks, just as some doctors are

    in regards to the post, whether it occurs in Africa or the US, just consider it natural selection acting to take the superstitious out of society – we’re on our way to a rational population!

  6. we’re on our way to a rational population

    Oh please no…I think having a few irrationalities around helps keep the Objectivists in check.

  7. I think having a few irrationalities around helps keep the Objectivists in check

    No, it keeps us amused.

  8. Until we cure stupidity, these stories will continue to appear, to the horror of the masses, but the perverse amusement to those of us who self studied while we were supposed to be paying attention in school.

  9. I don’t blame them. Big-Pharma is only in it for the profit. Hasn’t anyone seen A Constant Gardener?

    Riiiiight. Because “Big-Pharma” should produce drugs out of the goodness of their hearts.

  10. Reason writers (Weigel, Bailey, et al) take the prize as featuring among the laziest, most racist, ill-informed drivel on HIV/AIDS in the entire media, and that is saying a lot.

    You clowns still think HAART “saves lives” huh? And Africans are illiterate morons who don’t know what’s good for them, huh?

    Do you ever read the scientific literature? If you did, you’d find the following article in The Lancet (white men! white men! Calm down.) This, if you could read, would shatter your moronic Sullivaned out delusions about “quackery” and the salvation of HAART:

    “The results of this collaborative study, which involved 12 prospective cohorts and over 20,000 patients with HIV-1 from Europe and North America, show that the virological response after starting HAART has improved steadily since 1996. HOWEVER, THERE WAS NO CORRESPONDING DECREASE IN THE RATES OF AIDS, OR DEATH, UP TO ONE YEAR OF FOLLOW UP. CONVERSELY, THERE WAS SOME EVIDENCE FOR AN INCREASE IN THE RATES OF AIDS IN THE MOST RECENT PERIOD.”

    (Lancet 2006; 368:451-58. “HIV Treatment Response And Prognosis in Europe and North America In The First Decade of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy: A Collaborative Analysis.)

    “INTERPRETATION: VIROLOGICAL RESPONSES AFTER STARTING HAART IMPROVED OVER CALENDAR YEARS, BUT SUCH IMPROVEMENT HAS NOT TRANSLATED INTO A DECREASE IN MORTALITY.”

    Incidentally, your African man from the Baltimore Sun died after taking HAART. Of course, it was…”resistance.”

    Why then, do gay men in the West get saved by a Lazarus effect” when they are “near death?”

    No wonder you think Andrew Sullivan is terrific. You’re as blind and deaf as he is.

  11. In a recent 10 PM News story there was a tree that happened to be over a broken water pipe. The water was diverted up through the tree and bubbled out a hole in the trunk about five feet off the ground.

    Dozens of people showed up to fill plastic bottles with the “miracle water” hoping to cure a variety of ills. One woman brought her son, with an auto-immune deficiency, halfway across the U.S. The news story showed her telling him to scoop up the water that would cure his problem.

    Even after water crews turned off the supply to the pipe and therefore stopped the “miracle flow” there were people who wanted the water turned back on so they could get their dose.

  12. Ah, the racism flows and burbles right along. Now we have more tales of Dumb Africans, seeking miracle water….from some condescending loser who has probably never set foor on the African continent.

    You sneering pasty white liberty lovers will no doubt be very excited by the recent drive toward mass circumcision of African males. Smarter people are taking every shade of piss out of everything that came out of Toronto. Here you can read about the Weenie-Whacker and other Almost True HIV/AIDS Innovations Liberatians are sure to adore.

    http://www.newaidsreview.com/posts/1156121058.comments.shtml

  13. Ah, the racism flows and burbles right along. Now we have more tales of Dumb Africans, seeking miracle water….from some condescending loser who has probably never set foor on the African continent.

    Never been to Africa. But I was born in San Antonio, and still live about an hour from there, where this tree was located.

  14. This is why the libertarian wet dream of an unregulated market will never come to pass. In fact, it is why the regulated market came to pass in the first place.

    A healthy degree of skepticism is important whether considering advice from a chiropractor, a medical doctor, or an Aids expert. Sometimes the holistic is warranted, sometimes the drugs, and sometimes both.

    Me? I got great doctors. But when Dr Julie-Ann tells me that one glass of wine per day is the limit, I refer to a second opinion from Thomas Jefferson who once said…..

    I have lived temperately . . . I double the doctor’s recommendation of a glass and a half of wine a day and even treble it with a friend.

  15. I stand corrected: Larry did not specify Africa in his comment about superstitious medicine.

    But since we are on the subject of medicine and liberty, could anybody fill me in on whether Libertarians think Africans should be forced into clinical drug trials and/or take drugs they do not want? What about Peruvian homosexuals who are HIV negative? Read here the latest repugnant eye popping crap from Jon Cohen, in which Peru is described as a “hotbed” for HIV research and without ironic intent, gay Peruvian men are advertised as being entusiastic about softballs, used as motivating bait for clinical trials of anti-HIV drugs. Again, these are HIV negative men:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/313/5786/488

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.