Back to Africa Check

No, jatropha plant does not cure HIV and Aids

A meme shared on Facebook in Nigeria and Ghana promises a cure for HIV and Aids.

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


Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.