Ugandans Turn to Lizard Blood for AIDS

Desperate HIV/AIDS patients in northwestern Uganda have resorted to an unlikely therapy: by injecting themselves with blood from an uncommon type of lizard.

Natives believe that the reptile, identified by scientists as Varanus albigularis albigularis (white-throated monitor lizard) and locally known as Lepe, provides a panacea for HIV virus.

A recent HIV/AIDS Stake Holders’ Meeting in the Yumbe district have presented various video testimonies from some people living with the chronic disease who claim that they made astonishing recovery after being injected with the lizard blood. One testimony include a whole family infected with the virus who have asserted that they felt better after the unusual treatment.

Veterinary doctors at the Makerere University said that extractions from the lizard are effective in healing diabetes, kidney and skin infections, as well as acts as aphrodisiacs. Other parts of the lizard’s body that are said to provide "healing powers" include its dried gall bladder for heart problems and liver failure; and fat to restore eyesight, arthritis, rheumatism, and muscular pains.

However, not all who received the white-throated monitor lizard’s blood have positive results. One woman claimed she became unconscious after being injected with the blood, and only regained consciousness after 24 hours. Another patient was reported to have developed gangrene on the leg.

Professor Peter Baguma, the head of Organizational Psychology at Makerere University, have said that this "medical gamble" is a way of coping by people living with HIV, especially from those who feel frustrated about the delayed discovery of the cure or vaccine.

Despite of this, more residents in Yumbe are reportedly neglecting their anti-retroviral treatments in favor of the "alternative treatment". However, Lepe blood sells in the black market for about US$177.

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