Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines and Supplements by Mexican-Origin Patients in a U.S.–Mexico Border HIV Clinic

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Abstract

This article draws from a study investigating the influence of institutional and psychosocial factors on adherence to antiretroviral (ARV) medications by Mexican-origin persons living with HIV (PWLH) on the U.S.–Mexico border and seeking treatment at a clinic in El Paso, Texas. Among 113 participants, many individuals reported using complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) to support general health and their immune systems and to address symptoms of HIV-related diseases and ARV side effects. CAM were seen as complementing ARV treatment; however, CAM use was often not reported to health care providers out of concern about disapproval and loss of care privileges. This finding challenges researchers and providers to consider seriously how Hispanic populations, with their CAM use, may exhibit the hybridization of health and healing. Information on CAM use needs to be available to providers to assess the benefits and contraindications of use and to develop realistic and effective care strategies.

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