Prevalence of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among HIV Patients for Perceived Lipodystrophy
AbstractBackground : Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is common among some patients who test positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Changes in body-fat distribution can occur in some patients on prolonged highly active antiretroviral therapy. Currently, there are fewer effective treatments for the condition. Patients with lipodystrophy may be turning to CAM. Objective : The objective was to investigate the prevalence and perceived benefit of CAM use for perceived body-shape changes among a cohort of HIV-positive patients. Design/setting/subjects : We surveyed a cross-sectional convenience sample of 74 patients from urban and suburban HIV outpatient clinics in Baltimore, MD, who indicated concerns about body-shape changes. The survey instrument was developed based on validated questionnaires previously used in clinical trials and published work. Results : CAM use including both supplements and visits to CAM providers was 74% in our study population. In multivariate analysis, users of CAM were more likely to be men ( p = 0.016) and to have noticed bodyshape changes after taking HIV medications ( p = 0.012). However, very few subjects reported using CAM specifically for lipodystrophy changes. CAM use was more commonly reported for "general health." CAM was primarily more conventional, such as multivitamins or minerals, but several subjects reported using meditation and/or prayer (38%), ginseng ( Panax spp.) (3%), St John's wort ( Hypericum perforatum ) (1%), and acupuncture (1%). More conventional CAM, such as exercise, diet, and vitamins as well as meditation/prayer were perceived to be effective for lipodystrophy as well as for improving the overall sense of well-being. Conclusions : The rate of CAM use among the HIV-positive population is high and is primarily used to improve general health.