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Zimbabwe Scientists Dispute Benefits Of Gundamiti Herbal HIV Treatment

Zimbabwean scientists met Wednesday in Harare to examine the controversial claims by researchers from the University of Zimbabwe promoting an herbal treatment called gundamiti that they say reduces HIV blood levels and boosts CD4 "helper" T-cells..

Speaking at a meeting called by the Southern African AIDS Information Dissemination Service, or SAFAIDS, researcher Peter Mashava defended his claims for the herbal compound, saying that although there have been were only limited clinical trials due to a lack of funding, he firmly believes the treatment is effective.

Mashava, who has patented gundamiti in the United States, slammed his critics and accused them of waiting for Western scientists to come up with such treatments.

Mashava said he intends to expand production and distribution of gundamiti, but the Zimbabwe Medicines Control Authority has not registered the "herbal cocktail."

Chief Executive Officer Frederick Mandizvidza of the African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology told reporter Carole Gombakomba that his center tested gundamiti and found that it did not reduce viral load or boost CD4 cells.

But Lynde Francis, executive director of the Harare HIV /AIDS treatment and support organization called The Center, who was at the SAFAIDS meeting, said she has been using gundamiti for the past 14 years and it has found it to be beneficial.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...