Claimant of false HIV cure sentenced to 15 months in jail.

Claimant of false HIV cure sentenced to 15 months in jail.

The Mwanza Magistrate court has passed a sentence on Mr. Petros Jasi for misinforming the public that he has medicines in the name of ‘Gamora’ that cure HIV.                                                                                                                 

Social media has been awash with claims of some individuals having medication that cures HIV by the name of ‘Gamora’.The people who have been spreading the misinformation by advertising this unverified medication have been doing so using WhatsApp and Facebook platforms.

The claimants made it impossible to have a physical meeting with their clients. They receive the payments through mobile money platforms and in most cases they send the fake medication to their clients without any physical meeting.

Their identities are not easy to get including their whereabouts. They use phone numbers that are registered with names of some unsuspecting Malawian citizens.

In the process, some innocent clients who are living with HIV have had their money  swindled. In the worst case scenario, people living with HIV have believed these false medications as cure and subsequently stopped taking the anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).

In May 2024, the National AIDS Commission (NAC), Pharmacy and Medicines Regulatory Authority (PMRA), and Malawi Police Service launched investigations to track down individuals who were circulating social media adverts claiming they had medicines that cure HIV.

On 31st May 2024, the police apprehended Mr Jasi at Zalewa Road Block while trying to sell the purported “Gamora HIV cure” to a client.

The suspect was brought before the Magistrate court in Mwanza district for trial on accounts of violating the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Management) Act Number 9 of 2018 and the Poisons and Medicines Regulatory Authority (PMRA) Act of 2019.

The court found the suspect guilty of proclaiming, publishing misleading, false and inaccurate information concerning HIV and AIDS cure under sections 25 of the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Management) Act number 9 of 2018.

The suspect was also found guilty of advertising medicinal products without authorization under Section 68 of the PMRA Act No. 9 of 2019 and was convicted on both counts.

The state prosecutor pleaded with the court to give the suspect a stiffer punishment considering that the offence has made some people who are HIV positive to stop taking their ARV medication that could lead to loss of lives or reduced quality of life for the ART defaulters.

In passing judgment, the Magistrate agreed with the State that the proliferation of such misinformation has a great negative effect that could erode the gains which the national HIV response has registered.

The suspect was, therefore, sentenced to 15 months imprisonment with no option of paying a fine.

This sentence serves as a warning to those who exploit vulnerable individuals by spreading misinformation. The public is urged to be cautious and seek accurate information from trusted sources. The Commission is reminding all people that ARVs are the only approved and recommended treatment for HIV, that help to suppress viral load and improve quality of life.

Prior to this case, in March 2024, the Magistrate’s Court in Mangochi district fined two women to pay about K2.5 million each for selling vials of injectable gentamicin falsified as “Gamora HIV Cure.”

NAC, PMRA and the Malawi police are still vigilant on the ground to track the remaining culprits.  

The convict, Petros Jasi aged 32, comes from Tulonkhondo village, Traditional Authority Kanduku in Mwanza district.

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