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Home > Research > HIV / Women

Alternative Therapy Use In HIV Positive Women

By Meneilly, Glenda P*, Carr R**, Brown L*. *BC Women and Family HIV Centre, ** Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre, Vancouver, B.C. Canada

[Mo.B.301] Alternative Therapy Use In HIV Positive Women

Objective: To characterize the use of alternative therapies in a group of HIV positive women.

Methods: Forty-two percent (26/62) of female patients attending an ambulatory HIV clinic were identified as using alternative therapies. Using a structured telephone interview, the use of alternative therapies in this population was characterized.

Results: Sixteen patients consented to a telephone interview. Demographics: 98% Caucasian; mean age 35years(range 21 to 47);years since diagnosis 69% 1-4years, 25% 5-10 years; mean CD4 count 413 (range 50-1020);education-62% had post-secondary education. Fifty-five different alternative therapies were reported in current use (mean 8.5 per patient, range 2-20).Treatments were categorized as Herbal remedies (38%), Vitamins and minerals (29%), Relaxation techniques and massage (9%),Folk remedies(2%), Acupuncture(2%),and Other, such as acidophilus, DNCB, nacetylcysteine (20%). Seventeen different therapies were reported as discontinued (mean 1.9 per patient, range 1-7). Reasons for discontinuing therapy included: no benefit(31%),too expensive(19%),side effects(12.5%),detrimental to HIV (25%). The most common source of information on therapies was friends (50%), with only 19% of patients getting information from health care workers. Almost 50% said the information they received on these treatments was inadequate. Seventy-five percent of respondents spent over $100 per month on alternative treatments. The average yearly income for the group was $10,000 to 20,000 per year. In comparison to previous studies in homosexual men with similar demographics women with HIV are more likely to use a wide variety of herbal remedies and less likely to use acupuncture.

Conclusions: Many HIV positive women use a wide variety of alternative therapies. The economic burden of paying for these treatments is significant, and patients lack sources of reliable information regarding their use. HIV positive women appear to have a different pattern of alternative therapy use compared to men.

G.P. Meneilly, Oak Tree Clinic, B4 West, 4500 Oak St., Vancouver,BC, V5H 3N1 Canada
Telephone: 604-875-2212
FAX 604-875-3063


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