In the shadow of one man's AIDS 'vaccine'

In the shadow of one man's AIDS 'vaccine'

By Levi Obijiofor

I HAVE just finished reading a United Nations (UN) report on the state of HIV-AIDS in the world. The report contained a mix of good news and bad news. The good news is that the virus is claiming fewer lives than it did in the last decade of the 20th century. One other good news is that anti-retroviral medication is reaching more patients than was the case in the past. But not all infected persons in all parts of the world are accessing the medication for various reasons.

In terms of hard statistics, the UN report noted a marginal reduction in deaths linked to AIDS -- from 2.2 million people in 2005 to two million people in 2007.As far as Africa is concerned, the picture is again a mix of hope and despair. The UN report said the number of people being diagnosed with HIV-AIDS has decreased in Rwanda and Zimbabwe, thanks to what the report perceives as modifications in sexual practices.

So far in the global fight against HIV-AIDS, there are no vaccines and there is no cure but the medical world has made good progress through the development of anti-retroviral drugs that help to slow the spread of the virus and to prolong the lives of people infected with AIDS. The realisation that medical science is yet to discover a cure or vaccine for the treatment of the HIV-AIDS virus more than 20 years since the disease was detected compelled me to reflect on how a Nigerian man named Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka stunned the medical world when he claimed to have discovered a vaccine for the treatment of HIV-AIDS.

In 1999, exactly nine years ago, Jeremiah Abalaka caused ripples in Nigeria's medical fraternity and indeed in other parts of the world when he announced the discovery of a vaccine for treating the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) and its full-scale form - the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). No one had heard of the man prior to his sudden emergence and his proclamation about the prophylactic drug that he claimed could be used to treat HIV and AIDS.

In the medical profession, it is not enough to make claims about groundbreaking discoveries relating to new drugs for the treatment of certain diseases. The claimant must provide full-proof evidence of the scientific processes adopted in the research and the clinical tests that yielded the vaccine. If any of the essential elements of scientific research was found to be dodgy, the new age inventor such as Abalaka would expect to be grilled by his peers.

The hype and theatre surrounding Abalaka's claims about his anti-AIDS vaccine may have subsided but it is still relevant to ask a few questions. Where is Abalaka nine years after he claimed he had discovered a vaccine for the treatment of HIV-AIDS virus? If the vaccine was as effective as claimed, why is the world still searching for a vaccine nearly a decade after Abalaka announced he had found one? Why is no one talking about Abalaka today? Why are HIV-AIDS patients around the world not flocking to Nigeria to get a shot of Abalaka's vaccine? If Abalaka found a genuine vaccine for the treatment of HIV-AIDS virus, why do we still have people being diagnosed with HIV-AIDS in Nigeria? Why are beneficiaries of that vaccine not advertising - by verbal means - the vaccine and its founder?

When he announced the discovery of this magical vaccine for the treatment of HIV and AIDS patients, Abalaka did not win the support of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and indeed the support of many Nigerians. Naturally, he was irritated that rather than be recognised and presented with a national award, he was pummeled with embarrassing questions everywhere he went. Riled by growing cynicism about his claims, Abalaka became impatient, sometimes reclusive and most times unwilling to allow members of the NMA to conduct an inquest into his vaccine. Abalaka made the fundamental mistake of perceiving everyone who asked questions about his so-called vaccine as an enemy.

Throughout the period of the controversy, Abalaka was as combative as he was unhelpful in his own cause. Those who wanted to see the man provide proof or evidence to support the veracity of the so-called vaccine were starved of basic information. It might be true that prophets are not easily recognised in their home turf but Abalaka was one prophet whom his professional colleagues were wiling to give the benefit of the doubt but only if he could provide more information about his vaccine and the processes that led to the discovery.

At the time when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Abalaka used colourful language that did not win him friends when he said: "The health of my patients as a doctor is my first consideration. Even if my vaccine is made from stone, it should be accepted because it is safe and efficacious. The vaccine is purely African-innovative-black-monkey thinking."

Abalaka spoke like a man in a hurry. He wanted quick national and worldwide recognition for his HIV-AIDS vaccine. But he forgot that, in medical science, landmark discoveries are not accepted instantaneously. A breakthrough in the fight against HIV-AIDS virus must be tested meticulously and continuously in order to establish the authenticity of the results. In matters that involve human lives, it is best to be cautious.

There are valid reasons why an announcement about the discovery of a vaccine for the treatment of HIV-AIDS should be viewed with suspicion. There is a convention in the scientific community for researchers to follow rigid and verifiable research procedures and standards. Research results that fall short of the basic scientific procedures are normally regarded as bogus and capricious. In Abalaka's case, he did not provide his critics with verifiable information about his research procedures and the nature of the tests he conducted.

It is easy to understand why questions should be fired at one man because of the extraordinary claims about the discovery of a vaccine in a developing country where major hospitals lack the most basic of equipment and medicines. Since the discovery of the AIDS virus in 1981, the disease still poses a major health problem for governments, scientists and medical practitioners. The AIDS virus is no respecter of gender, age, ethnicity, religious affiliation and social status. The rich and famous are hit by the virus as are the poor and the weak.

In its early days and even up till now, western scientists and general population hold the view that the virus is more prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa and most of the developing parts of the world because of "weird" sexual practices, in particular the promiscuous lifestyle in societies where young men tend to evaluate their physical prowess by the number of female partners they sleep with.

In Africa, there are official and unofficial views on the origins and causes of HIV-AIDS. For example, South African President Thabo Mbeki likes to associate poverty with the epidemic known as HIV-AIDS. While poverty can contribute to low quality of life and the onset of diseases among poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa, the view that poverty alone causes AIDS is still highly contested. If poverty is the source of AIDS, why didn't the world experience AIDS right from the time poverty became a feature of human existence?

Other Africans believe that the AIDS virus was introduced into the world through weird sexual practices and alternative lifestyles that are more common in some parts of the world. Whichever view you subscribe to, the point is that the world has moved beyond the blame game (from "Africa caused it" to "AIDS is a western disease") during which time attention was devoted to the origins of the virus and who should be held accountable. The battle to find a cure for the deadly virus is more urgent now than ever before.

If Abalaka has the potent vaccine that can cure AIDS, he should stand up now to be counted. The world has waited for too long. He should convince the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and most importantly the World Health Organisation (WHO) that he has satisfied all the conditions and standards required for the production of HIV/AIDS vaccines.



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Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
ROSMAY posted on 08-01-2008, 17:22:13 PM
I would want to believe that Abalaka efforts were frustrated because of the attitude of his professional colleagues especially the then federal minister of health.It was said then that an arm of the nigerian armed forces was sending its personnel to Abalaka for the treatment of AIDS with positive results.
It is not uncommon for doctors having opportunity to be in research centres to lay claim to other people's work if they can improve on such works.I share his fear with him for refusing to disclose what his vaccine was/is made of.Afterall,the Dalton Atomic Theory is supposed today to be called Dimocritus Atomic Theory.
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Depirate posted on 08-01-2008, 19:01:58 PM
Abalaka was a fraud and only god knows how many people were infected following his "curing" patients with AIDS, we should stop elevating chalatans to great heights just because they are Nigerian
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Aguabata posted on 08-02-2008, 12:49:15 PM
there is nothing wrong with elevating people because they are Nigerians, rather the reverse is the case. My little investigation on Agbalaka revealed he was the best graduating student in his class, his classmates also revealed he was weird. I personally believe his research methodology may not pass international standards nor should a vaccine that should be on trials for years pushed into the public so quickly. The vaccine could be subduing the virus but on the other hand damaging the liver, who knows? I also believe that health offiials with Andooaka idiosyncracies will not help matters, the two egos will clash and set off fireworks.
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Lovenest posted on 08-03-2008, 02:20:33 AM
One Igbo scientist, Dr. Nwosu, discovered one vaccine for {I think} cholera in the '70s, he was not recognised in Nigeria because he was Igbo. The man went to the World Health Organization to prove his case, today, his vaccine is among the ones in use to check the spread of cholera.

Dr. Abalaka does not need to prove himself in Nigeria where issues of serious concern are always viewed with tribal and other mundane periscope. Let him go to the WHO to prove himself or, as he is cuurently doing, keep quiet and continue to treat those who come to him. Nigeria should go to blazes--useless country where politicians have no modicum of shame.
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Olusola posted on 08-03-2008, 12:09:58 PM
QUOTE:
One Igbo scientist, Dr. Nwosu, discovered one vaccine for {I think} cholera in the '70s, he was not recognised in Nigeria because he was Igbo. The man went to the World Health Organization to prove his case, today, his vaccine is among the ones in use to check the spread of cholera.

Dr. Abalaka does not need to prove himself in Nigeria where issues of serious concern are always viewed with tribal and other mundane periscope. Let him go to the WHO to prove himself or, as he is cuurently doing, keep quiet and continue to treat those who come to him. Nigeria should go to blazes--useless country where politicians have no modicum of shame.


Absolute BS. Ironically, the health ministers who waged war on Abalaka are of Igbo origin, namely Dr. Tim Menakaya and Prof. ABC Nwosu. I can see you have been irreversibly infected with the virus of ethnic bigotry. Science has standards and let Abalaka subject himself to those standards. Let him stop being like that fake Gabriel Oyibo of GAGUT nonsense, who instead of subjecting his work to global scientific standards, went about collecting chieftaincy titles in Igala land for his "scientific exploits."
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Lovenest posted on 08-03-2008, 12:49:40 PM
QUOTE:
Absolute BS. Ironically, the health ministers who waged war on Abalaka are of Igbo origin, namely Dr. Tim Menakaya and Prof. ABC Nwosu. I can see you have been irreversibly infected with the virus of ethnic bigotry. Science has standards and let Abalaka subject himself to those standards. Let him stop being like that fake Gabriel Oyibo of GAGUT nonsense, who instead of subjecting his work to global scientific standards, went about collecting chieftaincy titles in Igala land for his \"scientific exploits.\"


Even if he does people will still read jaundiced and regional meaning to it. So, the man has the right to prove himself or to keep quiet and keep treating people who come to him voluntarily. Afterall, the man never came to limelight again until Levi brought the topic up.One Nigeria my foot!
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Aji posted on 08-03-2008, 16:19:09 PM
FYI Dr Abalaka is not Igbo he is actually from the North (Kogi State) and he has a well fortified medical practice in Gwagalada Abuja called Medicrest which is well known and is easily accessible.
His achivement has received a lot of attention from reputable international bodies and not one of them has rubished his claim.
We do not have to sit down at our keyboards and condemn this man since we are yet to meet one of his patients who would say negative things about his cure.
The Nigerian Army has not issued a denial with regards to soldiers being reffered to him for treatment and no one is saying anything about Dr Abalaka infecting himself with the virus to prove his claim.
As with everything else in Nigeria due to the mentality of our leaders who find it hard to see beyond what they stand to benefit monetarily even at the expense of the lives of the citizens and International honour being bestowed on a compatriot, they will rather make Dr Abalaka look unserious in order not to stop the flow of forex used for the various AIDS/HIV programmes.
Lastly to that ethnic bigot who was quick to jump out shouting marginalisation, I was of the opinion that we had gone far beyond this level at the village where people just make claims without proper research into the subject matter or is it because the man's name starts with Aba?
Let us learn to celebrate achivers in our midst and not thieves and looters whom have become our local celebrities
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Depirate posted on 08-03-2008, 17:00:25 PM
Just one question, assuming Abalaka's claim is true (which for the avoidance of doubt it isn't) is he such a callous man that he will keep this phenomenal discovery to his chest for personal gain (either financial or recognition) and thus deny the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS around the world this "miracle"(?) cure ( in some parts of Uganda and Botswana the rate in the adult population is 1 in 4), is the well being of the thousands of babies born with HIV of no concern is him that he only waits until he is seen privately before he provides the cure?

I do not buy the "stealing my discovery" story, if he is scared of that he can make a sealed document that can be opened in event of a conflict as to who is the true discoverer.

And regarding the soldiers, i know doctors who worked in the army hospital that later treated those soldiers for HIV/AIDS - so much for a cure (and yes i know that is anecdotal but i do not think anyone wants to go there).
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Emi posted on 08-04-2008, 08:24:22 AM
There is no reason why we should imagine that Nigeria or even Africa is peculiar in doubting purported claims of scientific discovery. It is a general, and indeed, laudable human tendency. The one and only internationally accepted way of proving is by applying for a patent to protect the formula or design as the case may be, and then subjecting it to peer review following which a paper is published explaining the mechanism of action of the drug or vaccine, as in this case. Dr. Abalaka claimed that he had submitted a paper to The Lancet, one of medicine's most authoritative journals, way back then, but we are yet to see the paper. I was even hoping that he could choose to do a case series on the patients he had managed, with prolonged follow up, or even a more sophisticated research protocol, but Dr. Abalaka has not done this. For a person with the reputation of weirdness as Dr. Abalaka, one might expect a higher tendency to have paranoid reactions to challenges. We can only hope that he makes his work available to the scientific community in Nigeria and abroad. That is the only way he can be properly recognised or his claims conclusively debunked.
Re: In the shadow of one man`s AIDS `vaccine`
Felziedoo posted on 09-05-2008, 19:43:10 PM
QUOTE:
Abalaka was a fraud and only god knows how many people were infected following his \"curing\" patients with AIDS, we should stop elevating chalatans to great heights just because they are Nigerian


apart from all these, is that Guy Guilty?
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QUOTE:
Abalaka was a fraud and only god knows how many people were infected following his \"curing\" patients with AIDS, we should stop elevating chalatans to great heights just because they are Nigerian


Not only Nigerians does this anyways, why is it that, people in world are used to calling Nigerian/ Even Nigerians calles Nigerians, anybody can be this Guy, I beleive he did it all because of greed
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