This study examined the prevalence and factors associated with alternative therapy use in an ethnically diverse, gender-balanced sample of persons living with HIV/AIDS. More than two thirds (67%) of the participants who were taking HIV-related medications were also taking an alternative supplement. Half of the sample (50%) reported that they took one or more multivitamins, 17% reported using mineral supplements, 12% reported using Chinese herbs, and 12% reported using botanicals. Substantial proportions of the sample also reported using acupuncture (31%), massage (23%), and meditation (28%) to specifically treat HIV-related symptoms. Women were four times more likely to use alternative therapies than men. Also, Caucasians were nearly four times more likely to use alternative treatments compared to other ethnic groups. The results of this study indicate a strong need to assess individual patients' use of alternative treatment approaches as well as to further investigate their efficacy among HIV-positive patients.
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