Iran unveils Aids herbal remedy
Tehran - Iranian health minister Kamran Baqeri Lankarani announced on Saturday that Iran's scientists have produced a herbal medicine to boost the human body's immune system against HIV/Aids.
"The herbal-based medication, called Imod, serves to control the Aids virus and increases the body's immunity," Baqeri Lankarani was quoted as saying on state radio by the official news agency IRNA.
"It is not a medication to kill the virus, it rather can be used besides other anti-retroviral drugs."
The drug was made after five years' of research and had been tested on 200 patients, said IRNA.
It said the drug was considered the fifth generation of medications to control HIV/Aids.
"This is a substance good for both Aids patients and those who carry the virus without showing the symptoms," project director Mohammad Farhadi told state television.
Disease spread by drug use
Farhadi said the medication would be tested on 3 000 to 5 000 Iranian patients in the next year to monitor its efficacy.
Baqeri Lankarani said the number of HIV/Aids cases in Iran stood at about 14 000 while 1 700 had died of the disease.
Last June, Iranian officials warned about the rapid spread of HIV/Aids infections in the country due to a surge in intravenous drug usage.
"If no action is taken against the spread of this disease as quickly as possible, the number of those infected will reach 100 000 by the end of the next Iranian year (March 2008)," said Iran's deputy health minister, Moayed Alavian.
Iran is believed to have at least two million regular drug users - and possibly as many as 3.5 million. Alavian said addiction was growing by about 8% a year.
Intravenous drug use is believed to be the main cause of HIV/Aids infection at 62.3%, followed by "unknown causes" at 27.9% and sexual contact at 7.4%.