Look, Ma—No AIDS!

|

Tori Marlin at the Chicago Reader has a long, disturbing expose on Genvia, an anti-AIDS spray that's actually being adopted by some countries as a way to combat sexually transmitted disease. Its creator, Samuel Evans, had no medical experience, but had read an article about how the AIDS virus "didn't have great locomotion" and could be killed with the right anti-viral cocktail.

"It will kill HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, and gonorrhea and has the added bonus of killing male sperm instantly to prevent babies from being born with AIDS," he said. "This is history in the making."

And the testing of the protect consist of… one small experiment in China.

Evans says Genvia was tested further on 100 people at Gulou Hospital in Nanjing for about a year, adding, "I don't absolutely know whether that one year was 10 months or 12 months." He also says that in 2000 he received a certificate from the Chinese Academy of Medicine stating that Genvia had "passed all standards" for use as a "topically applied disinfectant" effective against HIV. He plans to post the test data on a Web site so other researchers can scrutinize it, but the AIDS Foundation's Jim Pickett doesn't understand why Evans has waited six years. "With a valid trial you want that data out there," he says. "You're dying to get it out there."

Again, it all seems like the work of a shameless hustler… except that the hustler has managed to convince some desperate people that he can prevent a disease that's ravaging their countries.

NEXT: Holy Smokes! You Need Booze!

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. So Bactine stops HIV? Okay.

  2. If it killed pop ups featuring blue haired Santa chicks, I’d be cool with it.

  3. I don’t know what’s in it, but I suspect shark fin and sea horse tail.

  4. What’s that I hear about folks trying to get rid of the FDA and complaining about regulations that prevent people from making fraudulent claims about their products…something about “letting the market take care of everything”…

  5. madpad,

    Utopia is not an option.

  6. I already carry too many things with me. Maybe they could flavor it for use as a breath freshener. Can you wash windows with it?

    Maybe it could double as a flashlight. I always need a flashlight.

  7. I don’t expect Utopia, fyodor…but an environment where dishonesty and fraud are allowed to flourish until the market acts…sometimes only after scores of people are dead…starts looking pretty stupid right about now.

  8. but an environment where dishonesty and fraud are allowed to flourish until the market acts…sometimes only after scores of people are dead…starts looking pretty stupid right about now.

    What are you, some kind of communist?

  9. If one of the big pharmaceutical companies had tried something like this, the left would be after its head, but he’s a ‘little guy’ and therefore it’s OK.

    madpad

    The market may be imperfect and even occasionally horrible, but can you honestly say that it is worse than some of the official AIDS policies that have been promoted in some African countries?

  10. dishonesty and fraud are allowed to flourish until the market acts

    The market is always “acting”, Madpad. The results and consequences of free people acting freely are not always instantaneously discernable or quantifiable. There is no better option available than being free to choose a scientist or a quack for your medical needs. But the “market” will not choose for you. Sorry…that part is up to you.

  11. What are you, some kind of communist?

    Absolutely not…but too little regulation can be just as bad and demotivating as too much.

    can you honestly say that it is worse than some of the official AIDS policies that have been promoted in some African countries?

    I didn’t defend those and the comparison is a bit disingenuous. In any case do two bads make a better? Obviously not…and since we both appear to agree that this is a bad, what would you suggest? Leave it to an ignorant populations or be further mislead?

    There is no better option available than being free to choose a scientist or a quack for your medical needs.

    Agreed. And very little stops one in America from obtaining the treatments they wish for most life-threatening illnesses. Even fellow doctors do little to reign in quacks.

    There are exceptions, of course and for those, one must travel to Mexico or Canada or elsewhere. It’s not perfect, but I’ll take what we have here over market operators being able to mislead an uninformed public.

  12. madpad,

    I think this qualifies as fraud if the product is demonstrated not to work and the person selling it had no reasonable basis for thinking it would, so in libertopia the maker would be subject to at least civil liability. Given that the people who he just suckered were public health policy makers in Liberia, I’m skeptical of how much regulation actually helps with quack treatments. Even in the USA, when the FDA bans marketing something like Hoxsey “therapy” as an cure for cancer, people still go to Mexico to get it around 80 years after it was first marketed and 46 years after the FDA banned its sale in the USA.

  13. I’d say this “cure” is on par with the actual science behind the “HIV=AIDS” hypothesis, and just as rigorously peer-reviewed.

    Next up, Ron Popeil solves Human-Induced Global Warming.

  14. If you’re looking for a topical application that does everything he claims, why didn’t you just say so? I’ve got some in a drawer in the kitchen: Just dip your entire penis in superglue (coating it with Teflon would work, too), let dry, and go have some fun! Reapply as needed.

  15. Tussin.

  16. dishonesty and fraud are allowed to flourish until the market acts

    Of course the opposite is also true – honesty and good science are prohibited from flourishing until a series of bureaucrats say so.

    Innocent people die from quckery, and innocent people die because of government holdups. (And that’s ignoring government quackery.) There’s no way to get an honest answer of which method is killing more.

  17. so in libertopia the maker would be subject to at least civil liability.

    Well that’s fine…if you’re willing to have a system where egregious false claims are subjected to civil litigation after the harm has been done. I think most folks would find it smarter to prevent the worst potential offenses if for no other purpose than some boundary of reason and logic.

    Still a quick review of the U.S. Libertarian Party platform indicates, “The Libertarian Party states that the government’s responsibilities should be limited to the protection of individual rights from the initiation of force and fraud.

    Which begs the question…If protection of individual’s rights from fraud is a libertarian ideal, what mechanisms does a libertopia use to ensure it?

  18. Innocent people die from quckery, and innocent people die because of government holdups. (And that’s ignoring government quackery.) There’s no way to get an honest answer of which method is killing more.

    That’s a bit specious…most of us are pretty aware of the ramifications of bad policies in Africa. Most of us are also pretty comfortable with the fairly transparent and diverse amounts of scientific data backing up many of our policies.

    I think you’re pinning an absolutist argument to a framework where the outcomes become a question of degree. Less people dying is good…more people needlessly dying is bad.

  19. madpad

    If I had a drug which would cure 90% of AIDS patients and would do nothing to 9%, but would cause 1% to develop heart disease, there is no government bureaucrat who would approve it, even though it would be a tremendous overall benefit. In today’s litigious environment, I doubt any company would be willing to market it, but that’s another issue.

  20. malaria has killed more people in Africa over the last 20 years then aids has…and it is a disease that is not a disease of choice that kill mostly the very young and has a far larger effect on the economy of developing nations then aids does…plus it is cheaper to treat and to prevent…why the fuck do we even talk about aids again when all people have to do not to get it is not fuck multiple strangers?

  21. Fraud consists of bad faith offerings and dealings. As long as this guy believes his product does what he says — and I bet he does — it’s not fraudulent.

  22. I think you’re pinning an absolutist argument to a framework where the outcomes become a question of degree. Less people dying is good…more people needlessly dying is bad.

    madpad,

    All I’m suggesting is that quackery and fraud results in X% of annual deaths whereas government buffoonery results in Y% of annual deaths. I have no idea if X > Y or if X < Y. As I said, there is no way of finding out.

    Meanwhile, you’re suggesting that the validity of scientific data, and the values of X and Y, are determined by national sentiment.

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_29_18/ai_90439302

  23. AIDSOn: Apply directly to AIDS.

  24. madpad,

    I’m not ruling out that criminal charges would be applicable to a situation like this, but it would depend on whether Evans has the mens rea necessary for criminal prosecution. It’s not a clear cut case, since Evans seems to believe that the product does work and thus lacks intent to defraud. However, I think that it is arguable that his behavior could rise to criminal negligence by failing to adequetely testing the efficacy and safety of the drug before selling it – this is what I’d have proposed in response to the sulfa elixer with diethylene glycol deaths that were largely responsible for the FDA ending up pre-screening drugs.

    In my personal libertopia, there is some role for the government proactively investigating people who may be marketing drugs in a fradulent manner, just like it it would for other crimes, but there is no required approval process and even drugs that have not been fully tested can be administered if the patient gives their informed consent based on an accurate representation of the what is known about the drug.

  25. when all people have to do not to get it is not fuck multiple strangers?

    Joshua…I’m sure the hundreds of thousands of women who’ve been raped throughout the Africa by armed gangs are comforted to know that avoiding AIDS is that simple.

    Now that it’s that simple, how will you disperse that info to a largely illiterate population with no effective mass media? Keep in mind this is a population still largely guided by superstition and the local shaman.

    As long as this guy believes his product does what he says — and I bet he does — it’s not fraudulent.

    He may believe it…based on fraudulent scientific claims from the Chinese researchers he outsourced to.

    Meanwhile, you’re suggesting that the validity of scientific data, and the values of X and Y, are determined by national sentiment.

    That’s not exactly what I said, though I can see how you can draw that conclusion.

    Let me be more clear. The ineffectiveness of the African programs is well-documented but becomes obvious to the casual observer when – despite those measures – AIDS rates do not go down.

    The effectiveness of U.S. programs is also well documented but become further obvious to the U.S. citizen as AIDS rates in the U.S. have, indeed, declined.

  26. Thanks for the response to my earlier query, Matt. I can see that. I’d like to see at least some type of review process that establishes some accordance with scientific principles.

    Think “Good House Keeping Seal of Approval” or “Underwriters Laboratory” type thing for the medical scene. So it doesn’t even have to be federal.

  27. Keep in mind…regulation here in the U.S. didn’t just apear without provocation.

    We have regulation now because of snake-oil salesman and the like peddling garbage and leaving sick or dead people in their wake.

    Citizens were not interested in suing after little Sally died of rheumatic fever, even though Dr. Feelgood swore his liver linament would do just the trick.

    Citizens wanted assurances that benefits were genuine and protection from swindlers. Behold the FDA.

    Most folks want a better system (don’t they always?), but very few people want to leave this one solely in the hands of the marketplace.

  28. At least he didn’t try to sell them a monorail.

  29. “If it killed pop ups featuring blue haired Santa chicks, I’d be cool with it.”

    Hey, I wish ALL Santa’s were that Sexy!

  30. We have regulation now because of snake-oil salesman and the like peddling garbage and leaving sick or dead people in their wake.

    That’s no way to talk about our elected representatives!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.