Cambodia's AIDS sufferers are turning to a Phnom Penh-based Chinese medical clinic
in the desperate hope of finding a miracle cure to their debilitating disease.
Mainland Chinese doctors at the Chong Hwa Clinic claim to be able to completely cure
the AIDS virus with no side effects within three months by using a tradition herbal
remedy which restores the patient's balance of 'Yin and Yang' - free of charge.
At first glance the small, two room operation on a dusty city side street seems an
unlikely locale for the source of a cure for the world's most feared deadly disease.
But the doctors insist that over the past year the application of their secret herbal
formula has scored a 100% success rate with more than 25 HIV/AIDS sufferers.
In a country with one of the world's highest HIV infection rates and scant access
to treatment of any kind, it is not surprising that the free, round the clock service
Clinic spokesman Hu Yongqiang says that initial local skepticism about the Chong
Hwa treatment was overcome after its first successful treatment of a Cambodian AIDS
"Other doctors had told [the patient] to 'go and wait to die, we cannot give
you effective medicine'," Hu said. "Then Dr Wang and Dr Cheng gave him
treatment every day for three months and he fully recovered."
But the clinic has done little to document its 'miracle cure'. Several months ago
the clinic doctors showed the results of blood tests carried out at the Institut
Pasteur du Cambodge to HIV experts based in Phnom Penh.
Dr Lut Lynen, a consultant with the Centre for Hope viewed the test results but found
"I couldn't give them any advice based on the blood tests they showed me,"
Lynen said. "They had single blood tests for two HIV positive patients so there
was no evidence of any change whether positive or negative."
Yet the clinic is unperturbed by the cold shoulder it is receiving from the medical
establishment. Hu says that the significance of the Chong Hwa clinic's research goes
far beyond Phnom Penh and Cambodia.
"[Our research] does not belong to our group, it belongs to the world and we
should let the world know it," he said. "That's our purpose in opening
this clinic...to continue our study and research on AIDS and to help people with
this disease. We are sure that the results of our research will be well known someday".
According to Hu, the clinic is able to sustain its free treatment service due to
funding from the doctors' families and the sale of their valuables.
"We sold a very expensive camera, the TV set, and also some of our passports
so we can continue our research," Hu said.
Medical experts did not dismiss the treatment out of hand, but were highly skeptical
of claims of a cure.
Francois Crabbé of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD told
the Post that Chong Hwa Clinic personnel had also sought his advice. He says the
doctors were unable to interpret the CD4 counts (the white blood cell count indicating
the progress of the disease) in their patients' blood tests and requested his help
in explaining them.
"Any alternative medicine that can help is welcome, even if we don't understand
...and, providing they don't charge, then why not?" said Dr Crabbé.
"I would be very happy if it were true [that the clinic could cure AIDS] but
I don't believe it's true. If it were they would already be famous for it."
One person prepared to try the clinic is local AIDS worker Vira Avolokita, who referred
two patients to the clinic this week.
"Once you've got this virus, you've got it", said Vira. "But if they
can improve these patients' CD4 counts then that would be monumental...some of our
patients believe in Chinese medicine and we'll do anything that may help."