By Frank Senge Kolma

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 23) -. A Papua New Guinea couple believes that a juice produced from a local plant has arrested the HIV virus and stopped the spread of AIDS within their family.

Elizabeth and Yana Nuna claim the juice, called Nguna Juice, is also responsible for curing people with many different illnesses.

A private doctor who has kept the couple's records and who has conducted the blood tests on the family is amazed that the woman has made a "miraculous recovery" from an AIDS induced condition which he termed was at a "terminal state" two years ago.

The couple’s three-month-old baby, Raymund, also shows no sign of the virus.

The medicinal properties of the juice, if any, have not been established scientifically.

It has also not been scientifically established whether Elizabeth Nuna's recovery is due solely to the juice.

Health Secretary Dr Nicholas Mann said his department is unaware of the existence of the juice. He said, however, that he will not discard the reports out of hand and said further that tests will have to be conducted on the juice to prove whether it has any medicinal properties.

"So many important discoveries have been made by chance," he said.

"I am positive that there will be something that will be found on our land because of the richness and variety of our flora and fauna.

"You never know. This can be history in the making."

Meantime, he and the department do not recommend it as an approved medicine to be taken by anybody with any sickness.

The Lae-based doctor of Elizabeth and Yana does not want to be identified and The National has accepted his request on condition he relates the relevant details as regards the couple.

Elizabeth Nuna, of mixed Solomon Islands and Hula (Central province) parentage, lost her first husband who died after living with AIDS two years ago. After Elizabeth and the first husband were diagnosed with HIV, the man left his job in Port Moresby and both traveled to the man's village in the Morobe province, where the man succumbed to an illness in 2001.

She was "terminally ill" and living with AIDS when she met and married Yana, a tribesman of her late husband. She lost 20 kilograms from 89kg to 69kg body weight within two months and the doctor gave her several months to live.

Yet today she has astounded her doctor by recovering fully from her illness.

She has gained weight. Her loss of hair has been reversed. After a first miscarriage, the couple's second baby is healthy with no detection of the HIV virus in its blood. It is breast-feeding.

Husband Yana Nuna has so far tested negative.

This "miraculous circumstances", in the words of the doctor, is attributed to a PNG bush plant.

Yana Nuna claims he has been using juice from the plant, which he calls Nguna Juice -- a herbal product -- on himself, his wife and an increasing number of people with serious ailments.

Yana's elder brother Intena Nuna, an accountant who has previously worked with the Health Department, claims more than 10,000 small containers of the juice have so far gone out to people on request since 1997.

Of these number about 20 people who were confirmed very sick with various ailments while carrying HIV have taken the juice, according to Mr Nuna.

Many more people living with HIV/AIDS may have taken the juice because they have not actually told the Nunas whether or not they have the virus, only that they were sick.

September 23, 2003

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