Could We Be Winning The Fight Against HIV/AIDS?

As it turns out, the long years, even decades of the fight against what has been believed to be the biggest health issue of the century might not have been a pipe dream after all – AIDS could really be a curable disease as of 2016.

Ever since HIV came to light as a lethal virus in the early 1980s, Scientists have been looking for a cure. In 2003, a number of these told the world they were very close to eradicating the disease once and for all. Paul Wender, the lead chemist from Stanford University, said that the medicine was strictly herbal and was derived from the bark of the Samoan mamala tree. He believed it could be available in 18 to 24 months.

As happenstance would have it, precisely two years later, it has emerged that there is an import in Uganda that could be the exact cure for the pandemic. This drug is said to be from Russia, which is exactly the reason for why this talk has been protracted from a mere heresy to something that could really be relied on. Russia has the history in this field. Russia has itself faced an ever increasing number of people who get infected by the disease each year since 1978 when the first case was diagnosed.

In November 2013, specialists from two Russian pharmaceutical companies announced the invention of a new drug for AIDS treatment.

This is no surprise therefore if this drug is really in the hands of Ugandans and now sipping down dosages of the same.

We have learnt that the AIDS curing drug has been shipped to Uganda in volumes under maximum secrecy and sold very covertly to exclusive individuals at Mulago Hospital – on black market, that is. It is said that this drug goes for between 700, 000/= and 1, 000, 000/=. Sometimes they even come at a higher price.

In bid to find out about the authenticity of this, we carried ourselves to the National Referral Hospital in Mulago. Ward 4B is the HIV/AIDS Patients Ward. As we strut into the corridors of the ward, we quickly perceive wails and screams. It’s obvious something is not right ahead of us. And of course, before we had paced much farther, we stumbled onto this stretcher that was clearly not like the rest that made rounds in the hospital corridors, transporting patients. This one was different and ghastly. It was more or less a container. We soon learnt it was headed for the mortuary and it made sense instantly – someone had just died and he had died of HIV/AIDS.

Evidently his bereaved and saddened relatives had no knowledge of the possibility to have their patient cured. And maybe they should have been crying for why that knowledge was so obscure. Yet, when we labored to determine if any of the patients ever heard of a cure, it was rather apparent that we were not making any sense.

Except for one, Albert Obonyo, a prim and elite looking Patient’s [sick brother’s] caretaker, who loosely punctuated his response with an exclamation; “Is that news anymore?”  He wondered, “it’s not everywhere because of the politics of economics.” But before he would elucidate, he got lost in thin air. He was gone. Only for our questionnaire to be expanded. Just who has access to this drug?

We landed on a doctor. Finally. He talked to us on condition of anonymity though. We agreed to play by the rules because we wanted him, first of all, to make sense of the rumor that AIDS is now curable at his place of work.

The doctor said he had never heard of such thing in Mulago but he continued, “It would not be entirely unprecedented. South Korea has that drug. India has it. Russia does as well. If Uganda does, it wouldn’t be news, would it?”

We were not sure if it wouldn’t be news because according to USAID, more than 1.8 million people have died of AIDS in Uganda since early 1980s.

However we insisted he give us a clue where to find this medicine. He got friendly and advised we get patient and follow quite a long trail of names until the end.

We had access to another Doctor who, at once dismissed knowledge of such a drug being sold anywhere in the world. He insisted there’s no way the government would conceal any drug from its people. “It makes no political sense. It makes no economic sense either because you cannot hide that information to enrich self on a black market.” He added, very much at divergence from another colleague of his, born of Kapchorwa who insisted Uganda has always had these drugs. He made mention of how his home town had always had the wisdom to make an HIV killing combination that only awaits testing at the Mulago laboratories. He notably refused to be on record as having said that.

From his derision he insinuated that AIDS was not as much a mystery anymore as has always been perceived. Other than so much, he was a hard nut to crack. He was keen to say however, that Ugandans should never raise their hopes outside the recommendations of the government. “Research is still ongoing,” he said, “for now, the surest way is abstinence.

Where there’s a will, there is a way, they say. As of whether the AIDS Cure is in Uganda, that’s as much a possibility that has no will to be backed by yet. By far, according to researchers worldwide, a cure is in sight and it should not be long before it becomes public knowledge.

First Published in Saturday Pepper, 2015

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