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Expert claims TCM effective in treating AIDS


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has proven a cost-effective AIDS treatment that enhances patients' immunity and improves the quality of their lives, a five-year clinical trial has concluded.

A group of 10 practitioners have trekked through remote counties of southwest China's Sichuan province since 2006, providing medicine to more than 300 AIDS patients who were enlisted as volunteers in a research program testing TCM treatment of the incurable disease.

"We have found, after years of research, that traditional herbal medicine proves most effective in the latency period, and its intervention can effectively postpone AIDS outbreak," claimed Zhang Yi, vice president of the Sichuan Academy of Chinese Medicine Sciences, in an interview with Xinhua Tuesday.

Such early-stage intervention, he suggested, could also enhance patients' immunity and ease their symptoms such as fatigue, susceptibility to cold and digestive disorders.

Most AIDS patients seek medical treatment when they have more than 100,000 copies of virus per milliliter of plasma and their immune systems are already damaged -- as measured by a count of immune cells called CD4 T-cells, according to Zhang.

"TCM treatment proves most effective when patients' virus copies are under 100,000 and their CD4 counts are around 800," he said. "If treated in time, their CD4 counts can be kept above 350, a level considered fairly healthy."

Over the past five years, members of Zhang's research team have traveled in their spare time to the cities of Leshan, Panzhihua and Xichang and to the remote Zhaojue and Butuo counties to deliver herbal medicine to patients and keep track of their situation.

However, Zhang did not reveal specific trial results or the herbal prescription, saying it was still under test.

TCM, a 2,000-year-old practice, is fundamentally different from evidence-based Western modern medicine in terms of theoretical concepts, such as the model of the body and concept of diseases.

According to a UNAIDS report issued last year, about 34 million people are living with HIV in the world. China reported about 429,000 registered HIV carriers and AIDS patients.

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