Sud African Defies AIDS Through Diet, Will to Live
Tue Jun 29, 8:13 AM ET
By Jonah Fisher
Source: Yahoo News
ASMARA, Eritrea (Reuters) - David Patient is no ordinary man. Diagnosed HIV-positive 21 years ago, the tanned South African has the confidence of a man who knows that every day he defies medical odds just by being alive.
He doesn't take anti-retroviral drugs and attributes his longevity to a tough dietary regime and an unbending will to live.
Now at age 43 he's taking his message around Africa in the hope of encouraging other HIV-positive people to do the same and offering ways for those who are not infected to stay that way.
"I'm not saying let's stop condoms, let's stop awareness," he said during a break in a course he was running for the United Nations in Eritrea.
"But let's start where Africans are. At the moment what we're saying to them is put this condom on, don't have children, don't prepare for your old age and by the way the government isn't going to pay for your medical care."
Nutrition forms the cornerstone of Patient's teaching. He says by that improving their immune system HIV-positive people increase their life span and reduce the chance of infecting partners.
"Every single person who is infected should wear a condom," he said. "But in a married situation this isn't always practical."
Zinc, beta carotene and selenium all boost the immune system so Patient's courses encourage people to find local produce which contains high levels of those nutrients.
At present someone diagnosed as HIV-positive can hope to live about eight years before developing full-blown AIDS. Patient says with proper nutrition that can be extended to 12.
The United Nations estimates some 40 million people around the world are infected with the disease and more than 25 million people have died from it. Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst-affected region with about 26 million infected.
Patient has castigated African leaders for failing to take stronger action on the issue.
They have been accused of moving too slowly to combat the epidemic by failing to provide life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs to their citizens.
Though he has yet to need the drugs himself, Patient thinks they should be made more widely available -- with one proviso.
"We can't be dishing out these highly toxic medicines without knowing that the food conditions must exist for them to work properly," he said, "Otherwise the virus mutates and we are just making the situation worse."
Infected in the United States in 1983 as a consequence of what he candidly calls his life as a "promiscuous little drugged out slut," Patient has fought for the rights of HIV/AIDS carriers all his adult life.
Evicted from his home and then fired from his job as a consequence of his HIV status, Patient went to court and won both times.
But while he has been able to win external fights and challenge governments, the internal battle has been difficult.
In the first 10 years of the disease Patient saw more than a thousand of his friends die, triggering a "tremendous survival guilt" that he was still alive.
Medical researchers were equally intrigued and he has been asked to give numerous samples to studies that aim to find common elements among HIV survivors.
Now Patient divides his time between inspiring corporate clients and conducting development seminars, mostly in Africa. With an autobiography in the pipeline, is he surprised he's lasted this long?
"Truthfully no I'm not," he said. "Apart from smoking, I have done everything possible to sustain my longevity. I'd have been pretty fed up if I'd died."
See also other articles:
An interview with David Patient (Source: The SA Journal of Natural Medicine
An article by David Patient, South Africa (Source: Aegis - Education Global Informatio System)
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