| Iran unveils herbal remedy against AIDS
Agence France Presse | February 3, 2007
Health Minister Kamran Baqeri Lankarani has announced that Iran's scientists have produced a herbal medicine that boosts the human's body immunity system against the HIV/AIDS virus.
"The herbal-based medication, called IMOD, serves to control the AIDS virus and increases the body's immunity," Baqeri Lankarani was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.
"It is not a medication to kill the virus, it rather can be used besides other anti-retroviral drugs," Baqeri Lankarani said on state radio.
The drug, made after five years of research, has been tested on 200 patients, IRNA said, adding that it is considered the fifth generation of medications helping control the HIV/AIDS virus.
"This is a substance good for both AIDS patients and those who carry the virus without showing the symptoms," the director of the project, Mohammad Farhadi, told state television.
Farhadi said the medication will now be tested on some 3,000 to 5,000 Iranian patients in the next year to monitor its efficacy.
Health Minister Baqeri Lankarani said that the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Iran stands at around 14,000 while 1,700 people have died of the disease.
Last June, Iranian officials warned about the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS infections in the country due to a surge in intravenous drug usage.
"If no action is taken against the spread of this disease as quickly as possible, the number of those infected will reach 100,000 by the end of the next Iranian year (March 2008)," said Iran's deputy health minister, Moayed Alavian.
Iran is believed to have at least two million regular drug users -- and possibly as many as 3.5 million. Alavian said addiction is growing by around eight percent a year.
Intravenous drug use is believed to be the main cause of HIV/AIDS infection at 62.3 percent, followed by "unknown causes" at 27.9 percent and sexual contact at 7.4 percent.
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