Prevalence and predictors of complementary and alternative medicine use in African-Americans with acquired immune deficiency syndrome

Ashli Owen-Smith, Frances McCarty, Dana Hankerson-Dyson, Ralph Diclemente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of CAM among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive individuals is becoming increasingly widespread. Unfortunately, some CAM therapies may jeopardise the efficacy of conventional HIV medication, making it critical to understand CAM use among this population. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence and predictors of CAM use in a theory-driven, multidimensional manner. African-American individuals who had received a diagnosis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) were recruited. The computer-administered survey asked questions about participants' CAM use and various psychosocial and socio-demographic characteristics. Participants' most recent CD4+ cell counts and HIV RNA levels were abstracted from medical records. Linear regression analyses, adjusted for potential confounders, were conducted to assess the independent contribution of various factors in explaining frequency of CAM use. A total of 182 subjects participated in the survey. Results indicate that most (94%) participants used at least one type of CAM therapy. The majority of participants (79.7%) used CAM therapies as a complement (rather than an alternative) to their HIV medications though half had not discussed these therapies with their healthcare providers. Female gender, high yearly income, high health literacy and high HIV RNA levels were associated with a greater frequency of CAM use, while stronger emotional well-being was associated with a lower frequency of CAM use. The implications of these findings are discussed and suggestions for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalFocus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • African-American
  • complementary and alternative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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