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Charlie Sheen’s HIV Goat Milk Doctor

On January 29, 2016, HBO Real Time host Bill Maher featured Samir Chachoua, a man who claims to have discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS, cancer, and a host of other illnesses. He is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S.; he operates out of Mexico where he charges rich visitors many thousands of dollars for treatment with his untested vaccines. Most of what he says on the program is unverifiable, demonstrably false, or frankly impossible.

Charlie Sheen: Failure, Not Success

The problem from the start is that Chachoua claims to have cured Charlie Sheen of HIV, and yet he admits that Charlie still has HIV. What gives? He says Charlie was dying from severe encephalitis, was incontinent, couldn’t tolerate daylight, and had severe liver failure. He claims to have “fixed” the liver, eliminated all the symptoms, and returned Charlie to vibrant health within a few hours of the first treatment. He claims that “within minutes” of starting his therapy, Charlie’s liver tests went to normal levels. That is simply not a believable claim, and no proof is in the offing. Damaged tissue takes time to heal. Recovery from chronic illness takes more than a matter of hours.

Charlie Sheen was also featured on a recent episode of Dr. Oz. There he described how Chachoua injected himself with Charlie’s blood. Bizarrely, he drew blood from some kind of lump on Charlie’s elbow rather than from a vein. Dr. Oz was appalled, as anyone would be. Not only was there a risk of HIV transmission, but there was a risk of transfusion reaction from mismatched blood that had not been typed and cross-matched. If the incident really occurred, it was nothing but a theatrical stunt demonstrating Chachoua’s overconfidence and poor judgment. Sheen had been on antiretroviral medications that had reduced his viral load to undetectable levels. As with all such patients, this does not mean the virus had been eradicated from the entire body. When Sheen stopped taking the meds, the HIV titers (concentrations) remained undetectable for a while, but then started going back up, exactly as would be expected. Chachoua started treating him during the undetectable period and proclaimed Charlie cured. But then Charlie’s titers started rising again. He realized he was not cured and went right back on his antiretroviral medications on the plane home from Mexico.

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About Skeptic

UPLOADING YOUR BRAIN SPECIAL ISSUE: Uploading the Mind to a Computer Mind Uploading: An Argument for the Scientific and Technical Plausibility of Preserving Thoughts Indefinitely by Kenneth Hayworth; Uploading Your Mind Does Not Compute by Peter Kassan; Virtual Immortality: Why the Mind-Body Problem is Still a Problem by Robert Lawrence Kuhn SPECIAL SECTION: What Motivates Extremists? Once Upon a Time: Re-Thinking the Fight Against Extremists by Tina Dupuy; Dealing With Islamism: Trust, Costly Signaling and Forming Moral Teams by Peter Boghossian and James A. Lindsay; Apocalypse Soon?: How Emerging Technologies, Population Growth, and Global Warming Will Fuel Apocalyptic Terrorism in the Future by Phil Torres ARTICLES Paleoanthropology Wars: The Discovery of Homo naledi has Generated Considerable Controversy in this Scientific Discipline by Nathan H. Lents; Charlie Sheen’s HIV Goat Milk Doctor by Harriet Hall, M.D.; Massachusetts: Mass Hysteria Cover Up by Robert E. Bartholomew; Agony and Ecstasy: Were Saint Paul’s Christian Beliefs a Symptom of Epileptic Personality Disorder? by Harry White; In Defense of Anti-Science: Why the Anti-anti-science Movement Has Gone too Far by J. Howard Siegal; The Decline of Intelligent Design: The 10th Anniversary of the Dover Decision and the Demise of Intelligent Design by Donald Prothero COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Flu Shots Facts and Fallacies by Harriet Hall, M.D.;The Gadfly: How Accurate is the “Cycle of Abuse”? by Carol Tavris REVIEW “Sacred Cows: A Lighthearted Look at Belief and Tradition Around the World” by Seth Andrews reviewed by Donald Prothero JUNIOR SKEPTIC: Man-Eating Plants: The Cannibal Tree of Madagascar by Daniel Loxton.