IN SHORT: Posts doing the rounds on Facebook claim colloidal silver can be used as an antibiotic and antiretroviral. But this claim is false, as colloidal silver should never be ingested.
Colloidal silver is a mixture of small silver particles suspended in a liquid.
One of the posts has been shared by a public Facebook page that belongs to “Dr. David Jockers”, with over 167,000 followers. The post claims that colloidal silver is a “powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial supplement”.
“While your body can build up resistance to prescription antibiotics, it’s not the case when it comes to colloidal silver,” the post reads.
The post also suggests that colloidal silver can “interfere with the replication mechanism of HIV” and is therefore a “fantastic antiviral substance”.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks and weakens the body’s immune system by targeting the white blood cells. Untreated HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids), the most advanced stage of the infection.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections by killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading but antibiotics cannot treat or prevent viral infections such as colds and flu. It is true that overusing them can lead to antibiotic resistance, which happens when bacteria change in response to the use of the medicine.
But can colloidal silver really be used as an alternative to antibiotics, or an antiretroviral “substance” for HIV? We investigated.
Previous warning letter for Facebook page from US federal agency
When researching how trustworthy the “Dr. David Jockers” Facebook page might be, we came across a warning letter from the US federal agency that regulates food and medicine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA warned the owner of the Facebook page to stop spreading information and selling products that claimed to treat Covid-19 without any evidence.
“It is unlawful … to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence, including, when appropriate, well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time,” the letter said.
The same warning letter was published on the Federal Trade Commission’s website, an independent consumer protection agency in the US.
But is the Facebook page’s advice on colloidal silver sound?
Colloidal silver should not be ingested
Before antibiotics were discovered, colloidal silver was used topically to treat infections and wounds. This means it was applied to the skin, not ingested.
But it is not recommended for use today. The FDA deemed it unsafe and ineffective in 1999.
Africa Check previously found that colloidal silver should not be ingested due to serious side effects.
Since colloidal silver should not be ingested, there is no evidence that it would work as an alternative to antibiotics.
Stick to antiretroviral medicine for HIV
According to the WHO, there is no cure for HIV. But it can be treated with medication, which stops the virus from replicating.
This treatment with medication is called antiretroviral therapy (ART).
There is no evidence that colloidal silver can help treat HIV. As colloidal silver can cause severe side effects, it's not recommended for people who have weak immune systems.
HIV misinformation can be harmful to those recently diagnosed and seeking treatment. When it comes to treating HIV, speak to your doctor instead of following unverified information on social media.
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