For nearly 2 decades, scientists have argued over whether a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)—or elements related to it—is able to fight HIV and cancer.

“Clinical grade” hCG—where it is either crude or just partially purified—is used in male hormone treatment and in medications for female infertility. In 1995, studies published in Nature and The Lancet reported that clinical grade hCG extracted from pregnant women’s urine was effective at shrinking Kaposi’s sarcomas. However, this claim was later retracted by the authors.

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