It shows a photo of a plant with red leaves and green fruit. The text reads: “Red Jatropha, a plant that completely cures the body of HIV AIDS.”
The meme was posted on the Facebook page “Ekpo Ruth Natural Health and Beauty Tips”. The page has more than 300,000 followers.
Understanding HIV and Aids
A plant that cures HIV? This would be a huge discovery.
In 2018, an estimated 37.9 million people across the world were living with HIV, according to UNAids. And in that year, 770,000 people died from Aids-related illnesses.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If people infected with HIV aren’t treated, they could develop Aids – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
Aids is the most severe phase of HIV infection. The immune system of people with Aids is so damaged they are at serious risk of disease and death.
Does the red jatropha plant “completely cure” the body of HIV and Aids? We checked.
‘Bellyache bush’ has untested properties as medicine
A reverse image search reveals that the plant shown in the meme is the red jatropha. Its scientific name is Jatropha gossypiifolia. It’s commonly called the bellyache bush.
The plant is identified by a number of websites, including an online seed seller and the official website of Singapore’s National Parks.
According to a 2014 journal article by researchers at Brazil’s Federal University of Rio Grande Do Norte, Jatropha gossypiifolia does have medicinal properties. But liquid from the plant, and its seeds, are poisonous.
The researchers say no clinical trials have been done to test the plant’s properties as a medicine. They suggest it should be studied further.
And the paper doesn’t mention any treatment for HIV.
‘There is no plant that cures HIV’
Dr Joshua Kimani is an epidemiologist and HIV researcher based in Nairobi, Kenya. He works at the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence, an Africa-focused network of HIV research institutions.
Africa Check asked Kimani about the meme’s claim.
“There is no plant that cures HIV. That’s not true,” he said.
“There’s no plant, no drug that cures HIV currently. We have drugs that control the infection, but we have no cure.” – Vincent Ng’ethe
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