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August 2015

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2003 Apr; 17(4): 155-68.

Use of complementary and alternative medicine by HIV-infected outpatients in Ontario, Canada.

Furler MD, Einarson TR, Walmsley S, Millson M, Bendayan R.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Little is known about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in Canadian patients with HIV. We sought to determine the prevalence of CAM use by patients attending HIV outpatient clinics in Ontario, Canada, and to compare the characteristics of users and nonusers. Impact of CAM definition on reported utilization rates was also assessed, specifically in relation to the inclusion and exclusion of vitamins, minerals, and multivitamins in CAM definition. In-person interviews were conducted between 1999 and 2001 with 104 HIV-positive outpatients enrolled in the HIV Ontario Observational Database project (HOOD) and attending HIV outpatient clinics in Ontario. Self-reported CAM utilization and demographic data were collected. Clinical data were obtained from medical chart review. Seventy-seven percent of participants reported current CAM use. Inclusion of vitamins and minerals (CAMVIT) increased this estimate to 89%. Nearly all patients used CAM in conjunction with antiretroviral medications. Out of pocket costs ranged from CAD$0 to more than CAD$250 per month. Most patients reported CAM use was beneficial and had improved their overall health. Female gender, HIV risk group, number of prescriptions, and overall number of drugs used were associated with CAM use. CAM use in Canadian patients with HIV is extremely common, with higher use among women. The definition of CAM has a substantial impact both on reported prevalence rates and on predictors of CAM use.

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