Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Selling scams to the most desperate patients

This is alternative medicine at its worst.

When it fails, blame the victim.

At prayer healing services in some Pentecostal churches, pastors invite people infected with HIV to come forward for a public healing, after which they burn the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declare the person cured.[1]


If only there were some documented cases of patients going from high levels of HIV to no HIV measurable with prayer as the only treatment.


The group was asked to undergo a test at a certain clinic in Nairobi, where they were all declared cured.

“We had joined him for crusades around Nairobi slums, telling the people how wonderful the pastor’s miracles were,” she added. “I was upbeat, but after two weeks I started falling sick. When I was tested, the virus was still in me and had multiplied since I was not taking the drugs.”[1]


Falsified AIDS tests convince people that they have been healed.

They then go tell others how wonderful it is.

Then they get sick again.

“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” said Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Nairobi.[1]


He is using that belief to kill people.

Maybe you do not believe that convincing people to stop taking the medications that are keeping them alive is killing them.

But the controversial ceremonies are raising red flags as believers’ conditions worsen, and a debate has opened over whether science or religion should take the lead in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.[1]


I propose a simple, clear solution.

Compare the outcomes of AIDS patients who are treated with the magic ceremony against the AIDS patients treated with conventional medicine. Have periodic blood tests to make sure the magic ceremony patients really are not taking medication.

Then compare the numbers at various times.

How many died with each treatment at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 15 months, . . . .

If prayer works, then the prayer and placebo patients will do as well as, or better than, the prayer and real AIDS medicine patients.

The benefit of the real AIDS medicines would be nonexistent after the benefit of an immediate prayer cure. The side effects of the real AIDS medicines would still be there.

Have half of the patients take a placebo and the other half take real AIDS medicine.

The study would not be overly expensive, unless you count the lives of those going for treatment, since they were going for the prayer treatment anyway.

Even better.

Make it a randomized placebo controlled study among people already going for the prayer treatment.

If the pastor has faith, he has nothing to lose.

Except the pastor appears to be intentionally scamming people for money.

“We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”[1]


As if seed money is not real money.

Because separating the request for money from the magic healing ceremony would probably result in much smaller donations.

Pentecostal church pastors often tell people that a lack of faith is the reason the prayer healing isn’t working.[1]


Blame the victim.

“When you are told there is an easier option, you want them (drugs) out of your life,” said Nyawera.[1]


This is the same tactic used by the rest of alternative medicine.

There is another important reason to invest in this kind of study.

The prayer healings are especially worrisome because people who quit treatment may become resistant to the drugs.[1]


Killing people by coercing them to stop taking their medications is bad, but generating more drug-resistant strains of AIDS harms even those who never fell for the scam.


[1] Pentecostal pastors in Africa push prayer, not drugs, for people with HIV
Washington Post
By Fredrick Nzwili
Religion News Service
Published: December 4