, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 257-268
Date: 06 Aug 2011

A Global Perspective on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among People Living with HIV/AIDS in the Era of Antiretroviral Treatment

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Abstract

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a popular adjunct to conventional medicine across medical populations, and is particularly relevant in the global HIV epidemic. Use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV is ubiquitous in high-resource areas and efforts to increase coverage in low-resource areas are underway. To better understand the role of CAM in HIV treatment and the implications of CAM use for ART uptake and adherence, we review international research published between 2007 and 2011. Findings confirm that CAM is commonly used as an adjunct to ART; however, in countries where ART is less accessible, many HIV-positive individuals take a pluralistic approach to health care, incorporating both traditional and, when available, conventional medicine. The reviewed studies provide no consensus on whether the use of CAM interferes with ART uptake or adherence; instead, research suggests that illness-related behaviors are driven by multiple factors and determined, at least in part, by the availability and accessibility of ART.