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October 2021

Int J STD AIDS. 1997 May; 8(5): 281-5.

Complementary AIDS therapies: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Ernst E.

HIV-infected/AIDS patients seem to frequently use complementary therapies, yet definitive information in this area is difficult to obtain. The aim of this systematic review is therefore to assess the published data on the use of complementary medicine by HIV-infected/AIDS patients. A computerized systematic literature search was carried out. Data on prevalence of complementary medicine (CM) use, effectiveness, risks and costs were extracted. The prevalence of CM use ranges between 27 and 100%. Users perceived complementary therapies as beneficial, however, no data exist to suggest that these treatments are specifically effective. They are generally perceived as 'safe', but there is evidence to suggest that risks do exist. The costs for complementary therapies seem to be high and financial exploitation of patients may not be infrequent. It is concluded that complementary therapies for HIV-infected/AIDS patients are popular. Their potential for doing either harm or good requires more detailed study.

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