Magarini MP Harry Kombe last Wednesday claimed to have discovered a HIV cure using reflexology therapy.
He said that by applying appropriate pressure to specific parts of the feet, hands and ears — areas believed to correspond to different body organs and systems — he could cure “early-stage” HIV.
The “treatment” would cost a patient Sh200 only, he said.
According to the MP, who is seeking re-election this August, the patients would be healed without using antiretroviral drugs.
Mr Kombe further told residents of Chamari in Kilifi county — a county where over 22,000 people are living with HIV — that through the 15-minute therapy he had treated a 60-year-old woman who later gave birth in Nairobi.
SESSIONS ON REFLEXOLOGY
The MP urged the youth to attend training sessions on reflexology where they would, alongside healing others, get employed.
The Nation, reached out to him to substantiate these allegations but he was unavailable.
However, his claim has sparked concerns among HIV experts who warn that it could have a negative impact on HIV patients should they take it as the truth.
Currently, 1.6 million Kenyans are living with HIV, with nearly 100,000 new infections annually.
HIV does not have a cure. It is managed through use of antiretrovirals, which ensure the viral load is suppressed. This prevents transmission and keeps opportunistic infections away.
A long-term researcher on infectious diseases at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Prof Matilu Mwau, said Mr Kombe sentiments could have negative implications on HIV work as there are people who might believe him. Patients who do not adhere to antiretrovirals treatment risk drug resistance, besides transmitting the virus.
“We know what reflexology does and what he is claiming is not true at all. He is not a doctor or a scientist,” he said.
Prof Mwau said patients with chronic illnesses such as HIV are always hopeful for a cure and sometimes can be misled to discard “tried and tested drugs” at grave cost to their lives.
The researcher said: “The HIV virus is found in three areas of the body: inside the cells, in the cytoplasm (which is the liquid composition of the cells) in the liquid part of the blood, also called plasma, and in the genetic material of the cell.”
He said there are drugs that can clear the virus in the plasma and the cytoplasm but the biggest hurdle is in the genetic material of the cell.
“There has been some progress but it is not perfect, though research is ongoing.”
Patients on ARVs should continue taking the drugs to keep the virus levels at a minimum.
“We have good drugs that suppress the virus completely. If you adhere to ARVs, they can lower the virus such that it cannot be detected or transmitted.”
But even as Prof Mwau, his peers and the World Health Organisation call for use of approved ARVs, there are divergent voices on this.