Prevalence and Predictors of Traditional Medicine Utilization among Persons Living With AIDS (PLWA) on Antiretroviral (ARV) and Prophylaxis Treatment in both Rural and Urban Areas in South Africa

  • GD Hughes
  • TR Puoane
  • BL Clark
  • TL Wondwossen
  • Q Johnson
  • W Folk
Keywords: AIDS, HIV infection, traditional medicine, alternative medicine, ARV


Previous studies have reported that majority of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment-naïve patients use traditional medicine(TM). Given that TM use is ubiquitous in South Africa especially for chronic conditions, there is a potential for ARV non-adherence and serious drug interactions among patients with HIV/AIDs who use TM. The motivating factors for TM use in HIV/AIDS patients on ARV and prophylaxis treatment have not been well defined in South Africa. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence, facilitators, predictors, and types of TM used among persons living with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral treatment. The study was a cross-sectional survey which involved 100 participants enrolled at ARV clinics in two South African provinces. Univariate and bivariate analyses were performed to assess the relationships between variables and potential predictors of TM. Sixteen percent of participants on ARV reported TM use. Seventy-nine percent used TM prior to a diagnosis of HIV. Participants were more likely to use TM if they were from a rural province, female, older, unmarried, employed, had limited education, or were HIV-positive for less than five years. TM users reported utilizing herbal or medicinal mixtures that were claimed to heal all conditions. This study provides insights into the treatment modalities selected by patients with HIV/AIDS in South Africa who are receiving ARV. This study revealed that less than 20% of participants co-used TM and ARV. However, close to 80% of participants utilize TM before contracting HIV, which is in keeping with approximate estimates by the WHO.

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eISSN: 0189-6016