HIV Nutritional Research

Lauren Bulanek, Op/Ed and Shark Stories Editor

Alfredo Darrington Bowman was a Honduran herbalist and healer that claimed to have found the cure for all diseases, including HIV and AIDS. He denied the germ theory, a theory that explains how infections and illness are due to the presence and actions of different micro-organisms in the body. Instead, Alfredo Darrington Bowman, also known as Dr. Sebi, believed that germs do not cause infection, despite the germ theory being proved by Louis Pasteur in the 1860s. Dr. Sebi also taught that HIV does not cause AIDS and used pseudoscience to support his claims. It is important to note Dr. Sebi was not a doctor and was considered a quack by medical professionals. Despite being a self-proclaimed healer, Dr. Sebi died of pneumonia in 2016. Though his claims have been proven to be scientifically false, his focus on how dieting affects people with HIV and/or AIDS has been proven to have some correlation in recent studies, just not in the way he wanted.

People living with HIV and/or AIDS often struggle to get the nutrients they need, due to symptoms such as intense feelings of nausea and difficulty swallowing food. Due to this, diet can often be a key component in treatments for HIV and AIDS. However, studies published recently by the US Department of Health and Human Services found that food can further damage the immune systems of people living with HIV and AIDS due to food-borne illnesses. These illnesses are much more harmful to people with HIV and AIDS due to their weak immune systems. The published studies found that additional steps need to be taken for preventing foodborne illnesses for people with HIV and AIDS than people with healthy immune systems.

Though there has been further development on HIV drug treatments, including the recent study published in the journal Nature, most HIV medications make it more difficult for the user to get the proper nutrition they need. The increasing correlation between HIV medication and the necessary diets for people with HIV provides hope that developing research will find ways for people living with HIV to get the nutrients their immune system needs. Though Dr. Sebi was likely just a quack, his emphasis on the human diet connection to HIV treatment might have some truth to it.