oa South African Family Practice - Other health-seeking behaviour of HIV and AIDS patients visiting private sector doctors in the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal : research
Objectives : Although allopathic medicines are used in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), many HIV-infected patients visit alternate medical and health practitioners, and take alternative therapies for their HIV condition. This study was conducted to confirm whether or not a sample of patients who visited private sector doctors used alternative medications, and whether or not they visited other healthcare professionals and/or healers for their condition.
Design, setting and subjects : A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted on 256 HIV patients who visited private sector doctors in the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal. An anonymous, close-ended questionnaire was administered to the patients after obtaining their consent.
Outcome measures : Variables included socio-demographic characteristics, other health-seeking behaviour, medicine and substance use.
Results : Private sector HIV patients engaged in other health-seeking behaviour. The study found that a varying proportion of respondents visited alternate practitioners, such as traditional healers, herbalists, homeopaths and Ayurvedic practitioners, and obtained complementary medicines from pharmacies, while some visited psychologists, psychiatrists, dietitians and religious leaders. The respondents also drank alcohol and took illicit drugs. A significant clinical finding was obtained with alcohol consumption and psychologist intervention. It was found that those respondents who visited a psychologist did not consume alcohol, while those who took alcohol did not visit a psychologist (p-value < 0.05). The latter indicates that HIV patients adopted different mechanisms to help them to cope with their condition.
Conclusion : This study concluded that patients with HIV/acquired immune deficiency syndrome in the private healthcare sector visited traditional healers and utilised other medicines, health professionals and/or therapies for their condition.
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