Magazine article Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

Charlie Sheen's HIV Goat Milk Doctor

Magazine article Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

Charlie Sheen's HIV Goat Milk Doctor

Article excerpt

On January 29, 2016, HBO Real Time host Bill Maher featured Samir Chachoua, a man who claims to have discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS, cancer, and a host of other illnesses. He is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S.; he operates out of Mexico where he charges rich visitors many thousands of dollars for treatment with his untested vaccines. Most of what he says on the program is unverifiable, demonstrably false, or frankly impossible.

Charlie Sheen: Failure, Not Success

The problem from the start is that Chachoua claims to have cured Charlie Sheen of HIV, and yet he admits that Charlie still has HIV. What gives? He says Charlie was dying from severe encephalitis, was incontinent, couldn't tolerate daylight, and had severe liver failure. He claims to have "fixed" the liver, eliminated all the symptoms, and returned Charlie to vibrant health within a few hours of the first treatment. He claims that "within minutes" of starting his therapy, Charlie's liver tests went to normal levels. That is simply not a believable claim, and no proof is in the offing. Damaged tissue takes time to heal. Recovery from chronic illness takes more than a matter of hours.

Charlie Sheen was also featured on a recent episode of Dr. Oz. There he described how Chachoua injected himself with Charlie's blood. Bizarrely, he drew blood from some kind of lump on Charlie's elbow rather than from a vein. Dr. Oz was appalled, as anyone would be. Not only was there a risk of HIV transmission, but there was a risk of transfusion reaction from mismatched blood that had not been typed and cross-matched. If the incident really occurred, it was nothing but a theatrical stunt demonstrating Chachoua's overconfidence and poor judgment. Sheen had been on antiretroviral medications that had reduced his viral load to undetectable levels. As with all such patients, this does not mean the virus had been eradicated from the entire body. When Sheen stopped taking the meds, the HIV titers (concentrations) remained undetectable for a while, but then started going back up, exactly as would be expected. Chachoua started treating him during the undetectable period and proclaimed Charlie cured. But then Charlie's titers started rising again. He realized he was not cured and went right back on his antiretroviral medications on the plane home from Mexico.

Chachoua claims Charlie Sheen as an example of his treatment's success, but he is actually an example of its failure. Charlie says he had offered himself as a guinea pig, he has accepted that the treatment was a failure, and he is not recommending the treatment to others.

Eradicated HIV/AIDS From an Entire Country

Chachoua even claims to have eradicated both HIV/AIDS and Chikungunya (a viral infection) from the island nation of The Comoros in 2006 with his vaccines. That claim is demonstrably false. HIV has never been eradicated from any country. As of 2012 there were 7,900 people in The Comoros living with HIV/AIDS, and deaths from AIDS are still being reported there (http://bit.ly/iNNtcPN).

What Really Happened at Cedars-Sinai?

Chachoua claims that Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found his vaccines "more than 99% effective." He further claims that they published the research as their own, and then buried it. Maher showed a 20-year-old NBC news video claiming that a federal jury awarded Chachoua $10,111,250. That is not an accurate summary of what happened.

Chachoua did indeed send samples to Cedars-Sinai for testing, and some kind of testing was done. He then sued Cedars-Sinai for a whole list of things, but only the "conspiracy to defame" and breach of contract claims went to trial; all of the other claims were dismissed prior to trial, many for lack of evidence. In the trial, Chachoua claimed that the test results were positive and were published by a researcher named Daar in the November 1996 issue of the journal AIDS Research Human Retroviruses. …

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