Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use and Substitution for Conventional Therapy by HIV-infected Patients

Published in: Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, v. 33, no. 2, June 1, 2003, p. 157-165

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2003

by An-Fu Hsiao, Mitchell D. Wong, David E. Kanouse, Rebecca L. Collins, Honghu H. Liu, Ronald Andersen, Allen Gifford, J. Allen McCutchan, Samuel A. Bozzette, Martin F. Shapiro, Neil S. Wenger

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BACKGROUND: HIV-infected patients commonly use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), but it is not known how often CAM is used as a complement or as a substitute for conventional HIV therapy. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the prevalence and factors associated with CAM use with potential for adverse effects and CAM substitution for conventional HIV medication. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional survey of U.S. national probability sample of HIV-infected patients (2,466 adults) in care from December 1996 to July 1997. MAIN OUTCOME VARIABLES: Any CAM use, CAM use with potential for adverse effects, and use of CAM as a substitute for conventional HIV therapy. Substitution was defined as replacement of some or all conventional HIV medications with CAM. RESULTS: Fifty-three percent of patients had recently used at least one type of CAM. One quarter of patients used CAM with the potential for adverse effects, and one-third had not discussed such use with their health care provider. Patients with a greater desire for medical information and involvement in medical decision making and with a negative attitude toward antiretrovirals were more likely to use CAM. Three percent of patients substituted CAM for conventional HIV therapy. They were more likely to desire involvement in medical decision-making (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-3.2) and to have a negative attitude toward antiretrovirals (odds ratio, 7.8; 95% confidence interval, 3.0-19.0). CONCLUSIONS: Physicians should openly ask HIV-infected patients about CAM use to prevent adverse effects and to identify CAM substitution for conventional HIV therapy.

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