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Fake AIDS cures

Claims about nutrition and HIV/AIDS

Many AIDS denialists (notably Roberto Giraldo) make false claims to the effect that AIDS is the result of nutritional deficiencies. This is untrue.

Quacks often promote unproven nutritional interventions instead of proven treatments like antiretroviral therapy. For example, German vitamin salesman Mathias Rath distributes high-dose vitamins in South Africa (and advises AIDS patients to stop antiretroviral therapy). Under the influence of denialists, the South African Health Minister has supported untested nutritional interventions over proven treatments. "Nutritionist" (and supplement salesman) Patrick Holford has made the unsubstantiated claim that Vitamin C is more effective than AZT. Gary Null is another denialist supplement entrepreneur. (See Statement by Coalition Against Fraudulent Claims).

What does the science say? It seems likely that HIV disease progresses more quickly in malnourished individuals, so healthy eating is important. However, the evidence that nutritional supplementation is beneficial is limited. There is also evidence that some supplementation is in fact harmful (e.g. the recent Cochrane Review on antioxidants which found increased death rates associated with certain antioxidant supplements). Patients should treat claims made about supplements with great circumspection and discuss any plan to take supplements of any kind with their clinician. A good source of information is aidsmap's page on nutrition.