Quack HIV/AIDS treatments
There is no cure or proven vaccine for AIDS as of the present time. Thus, unsurprisingly, a field of quack medical treatments purporting to treat AIDS has grown. These treatments are ineffective and range from harmless but worthless to potentially deadly.
The only effective treatment is management with an antiretroviral regimen (often in the form of a multi-drug cocktail), and these treatments can only slow the progression of the disease. HIV-positive people can use antiretroviral treatment to prevent them from getting AIDS and thus often live a long and healthy life (but for the controllable side effects of the antiretrovirals). Antiretrovirals are also used for both post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and the new and somewhat controversial pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which has been shown in some clinical trials to reduce HIV transmission among sexually active gay men by a pretty reasonable amount. The arguments against the widespread use of PrEP to prevent HIV transmission have basically taken two forms: it costs too much, and it'll turn people into massive sluts ("Truvada whores" as some Twitter satirists have mockingly decided to refer to themselves). The latter arguments are amazingly similar to the arguments against the availability of hormonal birth control pills, condoms, and other family planning methods when they first became available.
Notably, the antiretrovirals used to treat both HIV infection and to help patients with AIDS are incompatible with some herbal medicines/supplements, including the over-the-counter herbal depression treatment, St. John's wort.
Sex with a virgin
In southern Africa, there is a widely-held belief that an infected individual can "cleanse" oneself of AIDS by having sex with a virgin. Similar views regarding sexually transmitted diseases have existed for centuries, but the growth of this superstition during the AIDS pandemics of recent years is particularly shocking, as it has led to thousands of rapes of children and even of babies in Africa.
Other claimed treatments
- Oxygen therapy/hydrogen peroxide
- "Immune boosters", such as Kombucha tea. Interestingly, this item (falsely claimed as an immune system builder) has led to opportunistic infections in HIV-positive patients.
- Goat milk. Bill Maher gave air time to Samir Chachoua, who claimed to cure Charlie Sheen with goat milk. Sheen, interestingly, is back on his antiretroviral meds.
- Coenzyme Q10
- Ornithine and/or arginine (amino acids)
- Gamma-linolenic acid
- "Raw glandulars"
- Bach flower remedies
- Blue-green algae
- Cysteine (another amino acid)
- Miscellaneous herbal baths
- There have been several vaccines in Phase III clinical trials.
- Database of Antiretroviral Drug Interactions, HIV InSite, University of California at San Francisco
- "South African men rape babies as 'cure' for Aids", The Telegraph, 11 Nov 2001.