Use of complementary alternative medicine that could interact with ARV treatment reported by 20% patients in the UK

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

A poster presented by David Laddenheim and recorded the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by patients using antiretroviral therapy at three specialist HIV clinics in London to look for potential serious interactions, relative or absolute contra-indications and warnings issued when potential health risks were identified.

They used a cross-sectional survey in 253 randomly selected patients using a multiple choice questionnaire exploring use of herbal remedies, supplements and physical complementary treatments.

Of these 154 (60.9%) were taking herbal remedies or supplements and 88 (34.8%) were using physical treatments. 67 patients (26.5%) used a combination of both. If a potential interaction or contraindications was identified, a warning or caution was given to the patient.

Twenty-five patients (9.9%) were asked to stop their CAM because of potential serious drug interaction with their ARVs or adverse effects of the remedy used. Thirty patients (11.9%) were advised to use their remedies with caution and adequate monitoring. Of those taking CAMs, only half had discussed CAM use with a healthcare professional.

The study highlighted a high use of CAM, comparable to other reports for other countries, and that ten percent of these examples were potentially compromising their ARV treatment.


Ladenheim D, Phillpot M, O. Horn et al. Potential health risks of complementary alternative therapy (CAM) in HIV positive patients taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). XVI International AIDS Conference, Toronto, Canada. 13 – 18 August 2006. Poster abstract MOPE0219.

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