A database that tracks dubious medical claims.
Response number: 85
Responder: Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Government
Date of response: March 7, 2012
Type of response: State Action
TAC and other civil society organisations raise concerns about HIVEX and other fake drugs with Provincial Council of AIDS. Premier Mkhize commits to a task team to deal with fake medicines.
Claims dealt with in this response
This statement is from the KZN Government's website:
KwaZulu-Natal Council on AIDS gets tough on fake HIV cures
7 Mar 2012
The Provincial Council of AIDS sitting today received a report on unscrupulous individuals who mislead people to discard their Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in favour of herbal treatment.
“Many years ago, this issue was discussed with the traditional healers’ association, and they have been working very well with government in terms of treatment,” said KZN Premier and chairperson of the Provincial Council on AIDS, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo said the metro’s health division has investigated a company operating in Durban which apparently offers a HIVEX treatment. “They claim this treatment uses electro-magnetic rays which target proteins in the virus,” said Nxumalo.
He said there is no scientific proof that this treatment works. Nxumalo said patients pay R1 000 per treatment, R200 per month for a detox treatment. “We have visited this particular operation and found many patients waiting outside. One patient was visibly ill, and she did confirm that her CD4 count has decreased and viral load increased since she abandoned her ARV treatment. However, she said she was told that this is how the treatment works,” said Nxumalo.
Nxumalo said the eThekwini Health Unit is of the opinion that such operations should be registered with the Medicines Control Council of SA, who together with national Health Department are investigating if HIVEX is registered. Nxumalo said the matter was also referred to the Advertising Standards Authority in terms of perceived misleading advertising.
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the company was in breach of advertising standards through misleading information in their website Dr Mkhize presented correspondence where HIVEX’s Clive Harvey Fox says their treatment is not a cure for the HIV virus.
“Another case under investigation is of an individual calling themselves traditional healers like a “Dr Gumede”, who operates from the Workshop area in Durban,” said mayor Nxumalo. He said the Metro is currently investigating his whereabouts and intensifying the information campaign through Operation Sukuma Sakhe.
Nxumalo said there have also been complaints about a “wellness school” operating in the Inanda area. He said the concern relates not only to any purported training at the school but also to the direct health and safety risks to persons housed in the “encampment”.
Nxumalo said an application was made to the high court in this matter and an outcome from the court is awaited. The operations continue at the “wellness school” but student numbers have reduced significantly, noted Nxumalo. Nxumalo said there are also charismatic churches which tell people that if they become born again Christians they will be cured and not need their ARV treatment.
“We are working with the KZN Council of Churches which is going to host workshops with church leaders on issues of HIV and treatment,” said Nxumalo. “We need to deal with this issue urgently because people who have abandoned their treatment will develop drug resistance,” said Dr Mkhize before setting up a task team to collate all relevant information.
Dr Mkhize said the eThekwini Metro and Mayor Nxumalo should be thanked for their work. The Provincial Council on AIDS is a body representing various stakeholders in the fight against AIDS, including members of the provincial executive, district and municipal mayors, municipal managers, non-governmental organisations, the religious sector and various structures of civil society.
Regi Khumalo (Media Liaison)
Cell: 079 751 6108
For more information:
Ndabezinhle Sibiya (Premier's spokesperson)
Cell: 082 3754742
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Premier
7 Mar 2012