How You Know That HPV Cure, HIV Cure, or Herpes Cure is Fake

Snake Oil Salesman. FeralMartian / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images

There are a lot of companies on the Internet that claim to have herpes cures, HPV cures, and cures for HIV. You may see their advertisements even on many reputable websites, including this one, that can't control which sponsored links automatically appear alongside their content. Unfortunately, you can be pretty certain that any company claiming that their product cures one of these diseases is actively trying to mislead you.

To date, there is no published peer-reviewed literature showing that a drug can cure any one of these diseases.

Genital Herpes

Herpes can be treated -- even with certain, but not all, types of natural therapies. However, it cannot yet be cured. There is science that suggests that one day a herpes cure may be possible, Still, such a cure is unlikely to be on the market for many years.

It is particularly important to realize that because herpes outbreaks generally become less frequent and severe over time,a treatment may appear to be working when you are just experiencing the natural course of the disease. Alternatively, the treatment may actually be helping with symptoms, but not removing the virus from your body.

This is particularly dangerous because herpes can be spread even in the absence of symptoms. Therefore, treatments that are misleadingly advertised as herpes cures may encourage individuals to make dangerous decisions about safe sex.

They may believe that their partners are no longer at risk and take risks that they would otherwise forgo.

HPV - Human Papillomavirus

Most HPV infections are self-limiting. In other words, people's bodies usually cure HPV on their own. However, when someone's immune system is not up to the task, HPV infections can lead to various types of cancer.

They can also lead to genital warts. This is why monitoring HPV infections is so important. Still, it's important to realize that even pre-cancerous changes sometimes go away on their own - without any sort of "HPV cure."

There is no commercially available product that has been shown to cure HPV. In fact, if you carefully read the BioNaturaLab webpage advertising their "All-Natural HPV Cure Formula", you will notice that (as accessed on 2/11/10) three quarters of the way down, they state that "there still is no cure for HPV." In fact, every time they claim their product is an HPV cure, they link to a disclosure that states:

** Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

It's just in extremely tiny print at the bottom of the page.

Fortunately, even if there isn't an HPV cure, there is at least a vaccine. Actually, there are three -- Gardasil, Garadsil 9, and Cervarix. These vaccines don't protect against every type of the HPV. However, they have been shown to prevent infections with the types of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer.

HIV

There are many different types of drugs that can treat HIV, but to date there is no HIV cure.

Fortunately, the treatments that are available can control the spread of the virus for years, or even decades. They just need to be used appropriately, as prescribed by a doctor. Taking HIV medications inappropriately can lead to drug resistance, and no one wants that. 

How To Spot Quackery

If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If someone found a cure for HIV, herpes, or HPV, it would probably be all over the news. The scientist might even win a Nobel Prize! There is no way that an HIV cure, herpes cure, or HPV cure is going to be hidden on a website that no respectable researcher has ever heard of.

As soon as proof existed, the scientists involved would be trumpeting their success to the skies.

Fortunately, even those companies that have made misleading people into an art form are usually worried enough about truth in advertising lawsuits to cover their butts. Somewhere on their web pages, they will usually admit that there is no real evidence that their products can actually perform the miracles they claim. When in doubt:

  • Look for fine print, like the disclaimer above, that states that the product is not intended to treat or cure a disease.
     
  • Read all the information carefully, not just the bold print. You want to see if the product is being named as a cure or actually claimed as one. Calling something a "herpes cure" is subtly different from saying it can cure herpes. This is a distinction unethical companies exploit. 
     
  • Pay close attention to phrasing. Companies will often be careful to imply a particular effect instead of saying it actually exists.
     
  • Ask yourself if any research they talk about on the page really talks about the product they are selling. A lot of times,cited research refers only to peripherally related scientific facts. If they're not giving you data from an actual trial of their drug, be wary. You should assume they're probably trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Finally, remember that you can always ask for a reference. Any legitimate product will probably either have a list of the peer-reviewed scientific papers that support their claims on their site or be willing to give one to you. When in doubt, ask your doctor. If she can't find data to support a drug's claims, and thinks that it's worth continuing to investigate, she'll know the right people to ask.

Sources:

http://bionaturalabs.com. Accessed Online 2/11/10. Archived copy available.

Moustafa K. Internet and Advertisement. Sci Eng Ethics. 2016 Feb;22(1):293-6. doi: 10.1007/s11948-015-9647-z.

van Deventer MO. Meta-placebo: do doctors have to lie about giving a fake treatment? Med Hypotheses. 2008 Sep;71(3):335-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2008.03.040.