Anti-retroviral therapies have brought renewed hope for many people living with HIV. However, they do not offer a cure, and they can cause many side effects.
For these and other reasons, more than 70% of HIV-positive people have turned to alternative medicine for help. Some people use alternative medicine instead of standard Western medicine. However, most people choose to use alternative medicine along with standard Western medicine. This is called "complementary" or "integrative" medicine.
Antiretroviral therapy -- or ART -- revolutionized HIV treatment in the past few decades. And newer improvements, like one-pill-a-day drugs, are making life with HIV easier and safer.
"HIV really is a chronic disease now," says Brad Hare, MD, medical director of the HIV/AIDS Division at San Francisco General Hospital. "It's like diabetes or high blood pressure." As long as you manage it well, you should expect a long, healthy life.
Alternative medicine includes many types of therapy. The goals of these therapies are to:
Strengthen your immune system
Provide relief from symptoms and drug side effects
Improve your quality of life
What Is Alternative Medicine?
Alternative medicine involves a range of healing approaches. Many are holistic in approach. This means they connect the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Following are a few examples of AIDS and HIV alternative medicine. It's important to note that alternative medicine is not approved by the FDA or regulated by the U.S. government.
Alternative medical systems. These have evolved separately from -- and in some cases, before -- standard Western medicine.
Homeopathic medicine is an individualized treatment. It includes natural substances such as minerals, vitamins, and herbs. It is based on a principle that these substances can cure, when given in small doses.
Naturopathic medicine uses natural healing forces within the body to help it heal and stay healthier.
Ayurveda is an example of a system practiced mainly in another area of the world -- in this case, the Indian subcontinent. It emphasizes the use of the body, mind, and spirit to prevent and treat diseases.
Physical therapies focus on the body and senses to promote healing and a sense of well-being.
Acupuncture requires the insertion of tiny needles into certain areas of the body. It can be used for a variety of reasons. For example, acupuncture may be used to increase energy, reduce fatigue, decrease nerve pain, oe even help with addiction.