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Fiji Time: 8:02 AM on Sunday 21 September

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AIDS claim

Timoci Vula
Saturday, March 03, 2012

POLICE are investigating claims by a faith group at Nailega in Tailevu that they are treating and curing people living with HIV-AIDS using herbal medicine.

Fiji Police Force director operations ACP Henry Brown yesterday confirmed they had received a report to that effect.

And in an interview with this newspaper, the Ministry of Health disassociated itself from the group and its claim that it had discovered a cure for the deadly virus.

Loloma Service, established in 1999 at Lutunavonu - a settlement in Nailega is led by a woman and her six children.

Loloma chief executive officer Ilisoni Uganidavui claimed they had discovered the cure for HIV-AIDS, after treating and "curing" more than 20 people from around the country.

"They were all of different religions, races. Some came alone and some came as a family. Those who came were mostly over 20 years to 40, and the treatment was free," Mr Uganidavui said.

But the health ministry has disassociated itself from the group.

Mr Uganidavui said they were ready to cure anyone, local or foreigner.

He said his mother Vilimaina Cawelo, 64, was shown the cure in a vision in 1999, thus the birth of Loloma Service, which he described as the "service of God's calling".

"Before we treat a patient, we sit down with them and have a written agreement signed allowing us to treat them," Mr Uganidavui said.

"We ask them to provide us with the positive results, their ID (identification) and birth certificates, and we also are very strict on the confidentiality of our patients," he said.

He said patients were treated at their sick bays for three days, followed by another herbal treatment to heal the body of other sicknesses like diabetes and cancer.

"For those here who are treated for HIV-AIDS, we put them on a very strict diet," he said.

Deputy permanent secretary Public Health Dr Josefa Koroivueta said the ministry did not have evidence that traditional medicines the group used cured HIV-AIDS. He said the ministry was disappointed and believed the public was being misled.

"We have taken this up with the police because the health of the public is at risk. It's a threat," Dr Koroivueta said.

"It's serious. We have some of our own people on treatment and they could be swayed this way on promises that people have been cured."

Dr Koroivueta said the use of western medicines was based on facts and evidence before they were commercially produced.

He said while the ministry and the World Health Organisation did not have any issues over the use of herbal medicines, the group's claim that they could cure HIV-AIDS was serious.

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