Beware of Fake STD Cures

You think you may have herpes, genital warts, or HIV, but you don’t have a doctor or are too ashamed and worried to go to a health center or clinic.  So you research online and find impressive looking medical sites that offer “cures” for your condition. These claims sound too good to be true, and they are!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have joined forces in the Fraudulent STD Products Initiative. The FDA is the government agency that evaluates drugs for safety and effectiveness. Together, these agencies are warning makers of these bogus products to change their claims or take these products off the market. The FDA states that none of these products has been shown to treat any disease and they may have untested ingredients that could cause harm. Dr. Debbie Birnkrant of the Food and Drug Administration warns that these products won’t work and may cause delays in someone getting treatment. Effective treatments for sexually transmitted diseases are only available by prescription through a health care provider.

There are at least 15 products being sold online or in stores claiming to treat, cure, or prevent STDs. The online websites look official and medically informative. ImmuneGlory by Arenvy Laboratories, Inc shows chemical structures, testimonials, and has quotes and logos attributed to CNN, CDC, WebMD, MSNBC, and others. If you read these quotes carefully, they do not endorse the product itself as a cure, but comment on information about the disease. When you scroll down to the very bottom of the website, you will find in small print a disclaimer that states:

  • this product has not been reviewed by the FDA
  • this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease
  • this product is not affiliated with CNN, CDC, WebMD, etc.

Other products such as Viruxo and DMSO claim to kill and cure the herpes virus. The herpes virus is not yet curable, but can be controlled. A complete list of nonprescription products sold that claim to treat STDs is available on the FDA’s website.

The FDA states they have never approved any nonprescription online medication or dietary supplements that are proven to prevent or treat STDs. Condoms, when used properly, are the only nonprescription product shown to prevent STDs by decreasing your chance of contracting one from an infected sexual partner.

Safe, effective treatment is available, but you need to see a health care provider to be properly diagnosed and get a prescription.  Planned Parenthood’s website can help you find a provider, and it has excellent information on STDs.

Don’t risk your health or the health of your partner by purchasing products that may delay appropriate and effective treatment.

6 thoughts on “Beware of Fake STD Cures

  1. Thanks for this important information. In the research I’ve done on sexually transmitted infections I’ve come across a lot of descriptions of ineffective treatments (which are oftentimes cringe-inducing to read about) — although most of them were from the days before Salvarsan, sulfa drugs, or antibiotics. It’s amazing that these kinds of products are still available, even with the advent of effective treatment. It seems like these peddlers are preying on people’s embarrassment about going to a clinic, like you mentioned — maybe it also has to do with a lot of people’s suspicion toward the “medical establishment” as well. What do you think?

  2. Anna, I think this might be more about economic access than any conspiracy about the medical establishment. When people don’t think they can afford to go to a clinic, they will search the internet for any home remedy they can find. This is true for STIs, but it’s also true for women seeking abortion. The problem, as Becki points out in her article, is that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.

    • Serena and Anna- you are both right on in your comments. I saw a poll conducted by AARP that 27% of people aged 50-64 get their health info from the internet – I imagine a younger demographic may use the internet in even higher numbers. It’s so important to remember that not all internet health sites provide accurate medical information.

  3. I was not advancing any conspiracy theory about the medical establishment — I was referring to the fact that a lot of people are suspicious of the medical establishment, the pharmaceutical industry, or perhaps Western medicine in general, which could predispose them to wanting to find answers on their own, independently. I think that a lot of people also feel empowered by finding their own alternative remedies, which might speak to how disempowering the health-care system can feel in this country. This doesn’t necessarily overlap with economic problems in which people can’t — or think they can’t — afford care at a clinic. Plenty of affluent people are fans of home/alternative remedies, after all.

    I’m sure there are a lot of factors at play here. My suspicions would be that attitudes toward the medical establishment and financial concerns are some factors, but probably the biggest one is just plain old embarrassment (as pointed out in the article).

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