World AIDS day, HIV

A Decade Later, AIDS Treatment Armenicum Remains Controversial

December 01, 2008 12:31 PM
by Emily Coakley
A treatment and possible cure for HIV and AIDS celebrates its 10th anniversary, though doubts over its effectiveness linger.

Armenicum Is Criticized

As the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day is observed, some are criticizing one country’s approach to treating the disease.

According to an article on EurasiaNet, Armenia is spending extra money on a clinically unproven HIV treatment called Armenicum, developed in the country a decade ago. In Armenia, it costs about $6,000 a year for one patient to receive Armenicum, while an antiretroviral treatment costs $1,700 per patient for the same period. 

Armenicum, according to its makers, improves a person’s overall quality of life, health and memory, and organisms don’t become resistant to it. The main ingredient is iodine. Claims about Armenicum have never been empirically proven, says EurasiaNet.

Ashot Melkonyan, leader of the Armenicum Clinical Center, told EurasiaNet, “It’s still experimental and we are in the middle of the testing phase. But when we are ready, we will show the world what we have.”

The article says that there is a lot of pressure on doctors to make sure Armenicum is successful. It quotes an unnamed doctor as saying, “I know many clinicians who don’t believe in Armenicum, but they are not allowed to say anything.”
In 2000, a BBC reporter traveled to the clinic in Armenia where the medicine was being administered. At that time, a clinic official told the reporter, “[W]e would never say that Armenicum is a cure for the disease—that would be tactless. Our aim is only to get a positive effect using this preparation.”

The report included interviews with two California men who were undergoing treatment. One man, Andre, said, “For me it has been doing very, very well. My energy has increased dramatically; my total outlook on things has actually increased as well, mentally and physically.”

After they returned home, the reporter quoted the other man, David, as saying, “The treatment hasn’t done anything and it’s actually … we’re in a worse state than we were before we went. What we’re getting is the T-cell count is so low it’s in the danger level of 42.”

Reference: AIDS


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