Summer 2009

If patience is a virtue, then those of us involved with the Mali LDN Study must be becoming virtuous people!  When we started the Initiative in Mali several years ago, we expected to be completed by the beginning of 2009 and certainly by now. However, as we have reported before, the stigma of being HIV positive in Mali and the stringent CD4 count requirements of our protocol have led to a very long enrollment process.

However, we have news to report!

Enrollment in all three groups–LDN only, LDN and HAARV meds, and HAARV meds only–was completed at the end of July (171 participants in all). With that milestone passed, the program will definitely complete in early March of 2010.  The other piece of good news is that more than 80% of the testing has now been completed. That means 80% of the CD4 and hemoglobin tests that are done six times on each participant have been completed. For each participant, these tests are done at the start of the clinical period, after 15 days, and at the end of the first, third, sixth and ninth months. Most of the testing will be done by the end of this year with only the last few enrolled participants still undergoing testing in early 2010.

Meanwhile the GECP council groups have continued steadily with about 65 participants in the monthly meetings at any one time. As participants complete their nine-month clinical testing and leave the protocol, new participants have joined the councils. There are both men’s, women’s and mixed councils going, with attendance remarkably high in the majority of circles. The council discussions have dealt with the basic issues surrounding HIV/AIDS plus other issues of general importance. These topics include dealing with the HIV/AIDS stigma (within and outside the family), how to convince partners to commit to protected sex, experiencing the freedom that comes from acceptance of the illness and the possibility of healing, the empowerment of women to protect their health and to express their feelings in intimate matters, whether it’s better to marry someone who is also HIV positive, how to generate enough income to feed the family and so on.  The groups have been lively and remarkably open for a society in which intimate communication between men and women is virtually non-existent.  Obviously, at least many of the program participants were ready to break through long-standing Malian gender cultural barriers.  We are now beginning to analyze the semi-quantitative evaluations of each council provided by the council facilitators.  There are now six council leaders working in Bamako, all of whom have been trained by us and have been leading councils now for at least a year—some more than two!  The success of the council work has been encouraging and gratifying.

The formal analysis of the CD4, hemoglobin and interferon-alpha data will have to wait until the testing is completed. However, a preliminary review of the CD4 data shows a few trends:

  • Unavoidably, there are uncontrolled variables in the study, primarily because Mali is the second poorest country in sub-Saharan Africa—with a poverty rate that is currently increasing. This affects many issues including the dietary habits of participants, participant compliance with taking the meds, the prevalence of other infections and illnesses besides HIV/AIDS, etc. These factors may explain why, thus far, it appears that taking LDN alone is not sufficient to increase the CD4 levels for most of the HIV positive individuals in our study.  However, the LDN does seem to prevent some participants from large drops in CD4 count and from developing AIDS symptoms over the short haul (nine months). Whether this is significant has yet to be determined.  We plan to compare the change in CD4 count for the LDN-only group with the 80 count average yearly loss that the literature reports for HIV positive individuals who are not being treated at all to see if the change in CD4 levels in the group taking only LDN is significantly less that this level. We will have to wait until early 2010 to make this determination.
  • The participants who are taking LDN and the standard HAART medication and those taking just the HAART meds are showing significant increases in CD4 count. How much of this increase is due to the LDN and how much to the HAART medication cannot be fully determined until after all the testing is completed.
  • We also plan to look at the CD4 percentage as a measure of the strength of the immune system rather than just the CD4 count alone. Recent studies indicate that the percentage of the CD4 cells to the total white count may be a more useful and stable measure of immune system strength that the CD4 count alone.  We will also be looking into more complex measures of immune system strength that includes hemoglobin and other data available in the study.

Apart from whatever the final statistical results turn out to be, it is already clear that we have learned a lot about implementing an LDN protocol—the first such quantitative clinical study for HIV+ anywhere in the world, as far as we know.  This in itself will contribute to LDN being accepted into the medical community and we trust will spur further LDN studies in other countries. Another significant plus to the study is that efforts are already underway to arrange for LDN to be available in Mali once the study is completed next spring. This will be a boon to the population—and not only for those who are HIV positive.  From Mali, the availability can spread to other African countries.

On the financial front, the current monthly budget is running about $5,700, so we have to raise about $40,000 to cover the final seven months of the program. This will include all the analyses and writing of papers that will follow the end of the clinical study next spring. As always, we will greatly appreciate whatever support readers of this web site can provide, as our own funds are virtually tapped out. We want to thank all those who have supported this program, both financially and through their efforts to inform both the medical profession and potential users of LDN of the medication’s enormous potential for strengthening the immune system.

4 Responses to “Summer 2009”

  1. One can see part of the problem we face in this country, where some men will not allow their wives to go tested or treated, even though they are the spreaders of HIV+. August 24, 2009

    Mali Protests Erupt Against Women’s Rights
    Thousands staged a protest Saturday in Bamako, Mali’s capital, against a proposed law that would give women greater marriage rights in the country. Protests have occurred across the country and largely argue that the law is against Islam and “modeled on Western civilization”.

    The law was passed by the Malian National Assembly early this month and awaits the president’s signature. According to ABC and Agence France Presse, the law includes provisions that grant inheritance rights to children born without married parents, change the legal age for marriage to 18, and replaces “paternal power” with “parental authority” in family law.

    Hadja Sapiato Dembele of the National Union of Muslim Women’s Associations told the BBC “We have to stick to the Koran…A man must protect his wife, a wife must obey her husband.” She continued, “It’s a tiny minority of women here that wants this new law – the intellectuals. The poor and illiterate women of this country – the real Muslims – are against it.”

    Oumou Toura, a Malian women’s rights leader told Afrique en ligne that the new law promotes social justice. She said “Many girls married at 10, 11 or 12 have died in recent years in the region of Kayes…The new code will put the brakes (on this) because the guilty will from now on be punished and fined.”

    Media Resources: BBC 8/23/09; ABC 8/23/09; Agence France Presse 8/23/09; Afrique en ligne 8/23/09

  2. The work you are doing is very wonderful I wanted to ask you if a LDN might help someone with fibromyalgia or other immune disorders? Thanks again for you ground breaking increase in Health for
    those who may contract HiV sincerely Jeanette Belletire

  3. LDN is effective to a great extent in every autoimmune condition for which I have used it – studies have been and are being done on MS, Crohn’s, fibromyalgia, and autism so far. Many thousands of children with autism are using it (mostly in the form of transdermal cream) for immune as well as cognitive improvement. Thousands of MS patients in the US as well as the UK use it as their only medication – it will not reverse damage already done, but will stop the progression, so the sooner started the better. I have Crohn’s, cancer, fibromyalgia, Sjogren’s, chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, Parkinson’t, and Alzheimer’s patients using it. Jaquelyn McCandless MD

  4. Hello again Your are transforming people lifes It is your
    dedication and belief that keeps you seeking new ways treatments The LDN is a miracuous help for people with other illnesses are great helped as well
    It takes the place of narcotic for pain and no side effects!!! spread the good word to everyone with a chronic disorder Many Thanks Jeantte