Traditional medicine use in patients on antiretroviral therapy: a cross-sectional study at Thembalethu Wellness Centre, Northdale Hospital.
Mazibuko, Zethu Yvette Patronica.
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Introduction Adherence is the primary predictor of treatment success with antiretroviral therapy (ART). It is not known whether the use of traditional medicine use predicts non-adherence to ART. Traditional medicine use has been reported to be common among individuals with moderate and advanced HIV disease. There is some data available on the prevalence and patterns of African Traditional Medicine (ATM) use in patients with HIV/ AIDS. Aim The aim of this cross-sectional study was to describe the prevalence of traditional medicine use amongst patients on antiretroviral therapy, aged 18-49 years and to assess any association between the use of traditional medicines and adherence to antiretroviral therapy in patients seen at Thembalethu Wellness Centre, Northdale Hospital, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Methods Using systematic sampling, 75 HIV-positive patients on antiretroviral therapy were selected from the pharmacy queue. Data was collected using primarily a semi-structured questionnaire with closed and open-ended questions during a face-to-face interview. The questionnaire was translated to Zulu. Pre-testing of the questionnaire was completed with 5 HIV-infected persons not involved in the study from another hospital. Data from closed-ended questions was collected, coded and captured on computer using the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet programme then all data was imported to SPSS programme for analysis. Results The study findings showed that, of the seven individuals who reported using traditional medicines, three (42.9%) also reported to have missed ART doses with one who reported missing more than three doses in the preceding month. Traditional medicines were mostly used by African men who followed Christian religion. iii Traditional medicines were mainly used for cultural purposes specifically; cleansing purposes for different reasons. Male sex and the use of African traditional medicines were shown to be associated with poor adherence to antiretroviral therapy. Conclusion Although many previous studies have shown that traditional medicines were commonly used concomitantly with antiretroviral drugs by HIV positive patients; in this study only 9.3% of participants admitted having used traditional medicines in the 28 days preceding the survey. Participants were more likely to be non-adherent to ART if they were male and self-reported using traditional medicine.