African traditional healers and AIDS

Recently, the BBC posted an article soliciting opinions about whether African traditional or alternative medicines have a role in combatting AIDS. Not surprisingly there were a lot of credulous responses saying yes, but one response was more on target:

BBC, this question “Can herbal medicine combat Aids?” to me is a big joke. HIV death rate in Africa is growing at an alarming rate. If herbalists have power to cure people with HIV, why should they let the continent suffer? I have a number of old schoolmates who were affected by virus, their families took them away from town to villages thinking that traditional medicines would help them to survive but in vain.

Indeed. If African herbalists could cure AIDS, then why don’t they?

It’s possible that there might be herbal treatments that show retroviral activity, but there should be some sort of objective evidence for their efficacy before they are even considered seriously as a mainstay treatment.