Needless to say, the media spread the news about the magic cure far and wide. But was the original diagnosis correct?
Two British tabloids – The News of the Word and Mail on Sunday have reported of the first case of complete cure of the HIV virus. Andrew Stimpson, 25, a Glasgow resident, was diagnosed HIV-positive in 2002. He told the above newspapers that he became depressed and suicidal after being told he was HIV-positive but he overcame suicidal tendencies because he remained well. He fell into a deep depression in the end. Mr. Stimpson did not take any medication. Some 14 months later he was offered another test by doctors, which came back negative.
Mr. Stimpson was awfully glad to hear the news. “I am the luckiest person in the world,” said he to reporters. He sought compensation for moral damage. He was not awarded any money because the doctors have apparently had evidence showing there had been no fault with the testing procedure.
Further tests confirmed the results of the first negative one. The tests were conducted by National Health Service, a very authoritative organization. Mr. Stimpson had been visiting doctors for 25 times during two years. For 25 times doctors found him to be clear of the virus. Doctors claim they had irrefutable evidence proving that all samples belong to same person i.e. Andrew Stimpson.
Needless to say, the media spread the news about the magic cure far and wide. Doctors want him to take a complete examination but he has rejected the offer so far. Doctors still hope he may take further tests because the guy seems to be wavering in his decision. “There are 34.9 million people with HIV globally and I am the only person who managed to get rid of the virus, the only person who can help find a cure,” said he.
Will he really help find a cure should he agree to take a complete and lengthy examination? Some leading researchers are doubtful. Nature cites Jonathan Weber, an expert in infectious diseases from London Imperial College. Dr. Weber believes that Mr. Stimpson had not HIV virus in the first place or he is still infected but the virus does not respond to tests for some reasons.
Many other people, not necessarily medical research specialists, seem to share Dr. Weber's opinion. Professor Igor Sidorovich, head of AIDS department at the Institute of Immunology of the Russian Health Ministry had his doubts that Mr. Stimpson had ever had HIV virus.
“Roughly 20 million people died from AIDS, about 40 million are HIV-positive. And nobody but Stimpson got well. Therefore, there is a high probability of error in the first test. The test came back positive only once while there was a lot of negative ones. It throws more doubt on the story. The Stimpson case is one of those cases that are just perfect for the tabloids, the reader loves reading stuff like that. But specialists can not “understand” such cases. No information, no chance of knowing whether it was a hoax or error or a miracle,” said Mr. Sidorovich.
“We have the reports about prostitutes staying healthy in an African country where one of ten persons is HIV-positive. Scientists got very interested in doing a research in the phenomenon. A group of prostitutes was told to call it a day for awhile and conduct a detailed examination. The most amazing and confusing thing about the story is its ending. The prostitutes began catching the HIV virus after they pulled the plug on their trade. I can not classify the case since I have no data to prove it and I have no data to disprove it. We should study the case anyway even if it is a hoax,” added Mr. Sidorovich.
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