The purported HIV vaccine being marketed by Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka resulted into death for 29 out of his 30 patients, Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Gambo Aliyu has said.
Dr Aliyu who spoke an event held in Abuja to commemorate the World AIDS Day with the theme, ‘Communities make the difference’ stated that the patients died from complications arising from the treatment.
“Thirty patients were given to Abalaka when his treatment started. Today only one is alive, as 29 died of the complications of that treatment. Is this not enough?
“I began my HIV career way back in 2002 with HIV vaccine trials. I have spent a couple of times here in Africa and Nigeria crisscrossing and going to HIV vaccine trials network meetings sponsored by WHO and by HBT and US. There have been tremendous efforts and a lot of money has been spent in the search for HIV cure.
“But as the cure eludes scientists, the control cannot elude us. Studies are still ongoing, and recent studies are showing encouraging signs that other things could turn out to be the cure of HIV, not necessarily vaccines as we know.
“There is receptor editing, genetic engineering that is underway, and all of them are giving promising results where scientists are trying to change the structure of the very cell that HIV virus destroys, to the extent that it denies HIV attachment to the cell in the first place. So, if your cells are modified in a way that HIV doesn’t even get to attach itself to, there is no way it can go into those cells.
“There are people that have that kind of mutation, but they are very few. There are some groups in Kenya that have resistance to HIV all their lives and their business was sex working. They have a mutation that disallowed HIV to attach to the very cell that HIV destroys in our body. We are very hopeful that in the next five to ten years something good will come out of it”.
He further added: “Nigeria accounts for more than half of new infections and deaths from AIDS-related illness according to the UNAIDS 2018 report. Less than 40 per cent of our adolescent and young people, who are the leaders of tomorrow, have correct knowledge and comprehensive knowledge about HIV.
“This year’s theme is ‘communities make the difference’, therefore, we recognize the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels. Communities include networks of people living with or affected by HIV, women and young people, peer educators, counselors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations, religious and traditional leaders, policy makers and activists.
“As Nigeria strives to achieve epidemic control in an environment where international funding for HIV is reducing and Nigeria’s domestic funding for HIV is estimated to be below 30 per cent, the efforts of communities is urgently needed to ensure that HIV remains on the political agenda and galvanize International and National funding for HIV”.
Chairman of the Senate Committee Chairman on Primary Health Care, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi also emphasized the significance of the campaign.
“This campaign is key to Nigeria’s effort to achieve the third 90 UNAIDS target (that is, percentage of Nigerians living with HIV on treatment who have suppressed viral loads) by 2020.
“As we launch this campaign early next week in the Federal Capital Territory, Nigerian communities will be charged with the responsibility of supporting their fellow Nigerians living with HIV to achieve undetectable viral load for their own good and for the good of Nigeria”, the Senator said.