PITCH reverses dangerous advice to treat HIV with dietary supplement in Indonesia
At the beginning of 2019, disturbing news came from Indonesia’s Papua province that official authorities were promoting a dietary supplement as treatment for HIV, claiming it could cure HIV.
The Papua AIDS Commission had bought and distributed ‘Purtier Placenta’, a dietary supplement said to be derived from stem cells of animals, free of charge to people living with HIV in Papua. Public officials claimed that this latest ‘drug’ could cure various chronic diseases, including HIV. However, these claims bear no scientific evidence, and pose a threat to the lives of people living with HIV.
Baby Rivona, PITCH country foal point in Indonesia, said: “Promoting a supplement as treatment for HIV is dangerous because people may think it’s an alternative to ARVs and stop taking them, which is a risk for their health and life. We need Papua’s authorities to send a clear message to everyone that ARVs is the only treatment proven to control HIV, and everyone living with HIV should continue their ARV regimen.”
In view of the alarming situation, PITCH partners the Association of Indonesian Positive Women (IPPI) and Inti Muda organised a capacity building event and a public hearing in Papua province in May 2019. During these events the organisers underscored the critical role of ARVs as the only effective drug for the treatment of HIV.
A wide range of participants, such as the District Health Office, the Papua AIDS Commission, medical doctors, HIV activists and PITCH representatives took part in the event, which was covered extensively by print and electronic media, and a local TV.
Medical doctors working closely with people living with HIV, representatives of the District Health Office, and the Papua AIDS Commission made a joint statement that only ARVs can control HIV. Following the event, the supplement is no longer officially endorsed as a substitution drug for ARVs in Papua province.