A new HIV cure, being punted on social media, "smacks of quackery", according to a prominent HIV scientist.
Gammora, a drug being developed by Israeli biomedical company Zion Medical, is being sold to the world as a breakthrough in the fight against HIV, even offering a "potential cure".
- Health24: HIV/Aids centre
Prominent Twitter parody account @AdvBarryRoux, which has almost half a million followers, has been tweeting about the new 'wonder' drug.
"A drug for HIV cure just passed it's first clinical human trial it was announced last night. The name is called Gammora. relief to those infected by HIV. They will get cured [sic]," he tweeted.
By 14:00 on Tuesday, this tweet had received 2 600 likes and 1 700 retweets.
Twitter user @CawntryBoy responded with: "Gammora is said to have wiped off 99% of the virus in 14 days. That's a huge sigh of relief to our infected family."
Many other Twitter users have responded similarly enthusiastically believing the sweeping claims.
"This drug is designed to kill HIV-infected cells, without harming uninfected cells, working different than antiretroviral drugs. Retweet For Awareness," read another one of @AdvBarryRoux's tweets which has been retweeted over 1 100 times already [at 14:00].
The HIV world has been plagued by denialism and quacks promoting cures which has hurt the AIDS fight and resulted in unnecessary deaths.
"The HIV world has seen quackery in different forms for decades – sadly this smacks of more of it," prominent HIV scientist, Professor Francois Venter from the University of Witwatersrand's Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, told Health-e News.
He said that saying the drug is a potential cure with no side-effects are "over-the-top biological claims that appear in public before the formal literature [is published] and should be viewed with deep scepticism".
Health-e News could not find Zion Medical's results published in any peer-reviewed scientific or medical journal and the company had not responded to requests for a copy by the time of writing.
"I looked at the press report and the unsophisticated company website, and even if you believe their claims, they are many years away from testing them," said Venter.
He said: "This gives science and scientists a bad name." – Health-e News