Lamin Ceesay, the first Gambian to go public with his HIV status 17 years ago, has said that former president Jammeh’s treatment of the virus didn’t work on most patients, saying many have actually died during the treatment.
Jammeh stunned the world in 2007 when he claimed he could cure HIV and AIDS with his cocktail of herbal concoction.
But according to Ceesay, who was the first to drink and apply Jammeh’s herbs at the beginning of the treatment, the herbs left him with a running stomach for months.
“I cannot even count the number of people that died during the treatment. Most of those who were there until the program ended died shortly after. The treatment wasn’t good. The only thing that made it better was the food because we ate roasted meat every time, vegetables and fruits were all in abundance. Naturally, you would put on weight but that doesn’t mean the treatment was working. The majority of them died. Those herbs were all zero. If I had remained there myself, I would have died a long time ago.
“Jammeh asked for ten people from Santa Yalla to join his treatment. I was among the ten who went there. He gave us strict warning that smoking, drinking attaya, chewing cola nut, engaging in sexual intercourse, etc., were all forbidden as soon as the treatment starts. I was the first patient he started the treatment on. But his medicine caused me serious diarrhoea. In fact, before I left MRC to join his treatment, my viral load was almost undetectable. It was during his treatment my condition worsened because I ended up having tuberculosis too as we were all grouped together and some already had TB. For seven months I was very sick until I decided to quit the treatment and return to MRC, where I am until now.
“I was in the treatment program with my first wife who eventually died. But the saddest thing was, the president never even sent a delegation to pay their condolences to me,” he said.