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Herbs and a banana can cure AIDS?

AIDS in Gambia

The president of Gambia can cure AIDS, but just on Thursdays, the only day when his healing powers work. The cure includes applying a green sludge to the skin of the patient, sprinkling a mystery liquid, having the patient swig a brown broth, and topping it all off with a banana snack. Whirling about the patient and uttering verses from the Koran are also part of the treatment.

President Yahya Jammeh says this treatment, with its seven secret herbs, can cure AIDS "with absolute certainty" if patients meet two requirements: 1) abstaining from alcohol, tea, coffee, sex, and theft during the multiweek course of treatment, and 2) ceasing to take antiviral medications.

Oh, the president also claims he can cure asthma and diabetes.

Speaking seriously, though, this "cure" for AIDS highlights the misinformation that surrounds the disease in many countries. In Africa, many aren't aware that condoms protect against HIV infection. Even if they are told, they also face anti-condom messages: Condoms are a conspiracy by whites to lower African birthrates; condoms are tainted with HIV to decrease the African population. On top of it all, traditional healers, tribal leaders, and the Catholic Church warn against using condoms. What is one to believe?

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