University pours cold water on Aids 'cure'

Research on a traditional medicine claimed to treat HIV/Aids at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has not found any benefit for Aids patients, the university said on Saturday.

“The university has not conducted any clinical trial research on patients with Ubhejane and refutes claims that research at the university has found any benefit for Aids patients” said Professor Nceba Gqaleni, UKZN’s head of traditional medicines research.

Ubhejane has been reported to be a mixture of 89 herbs and is said to have a “potent activity” against opportunistic infections associated with HIV/Aids.

According to media reports, Ubhejane manufacturers Zeblon Gwala and Professor Herbert Vilakazi—advisor to KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele—have quoted research from UKZN to support claims that the product can cure HIV/Aids.

The university said as part of its research programme focusing on traditional medicines to treat Aids, it has probed the activity of Ubhejane on cell-lines in test tubes.

“These comments are unfounded and misrepresent findings of preliminary research on Ubhejane at the university,” Gcaleni said.

He said the findings of these studies could not conclude about the potential action of Ubhejane in humans.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, UKZN vice-chancellor for research said: “Ubhejane is being sold as an Aids treatment at high cost, suggesting that profits are being made from the suffering of Aids patients through untested claims.”

A month’s supply of the product is said to cost R342. He said while the university supported research on traditional medicines, it would not allow its reputation to be abused through false claims.

According to Abdool Karim, new procedures were being enforced at the university to prevent people making false claims from its research findings.
- Sapa

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