Use of plants with medicinal purposes by people living with HIV/ AIDS on antiretroviral therapy

Francisca Maria de Almeida Maria Teresa Soares Seabra de Britto e Alves Flavia Maria Mendonça do Amaral About the authors

It is an observational, analytic study, developed at a hospital in Maranhao-Brazil, from May-2009 to February-2010. The objective was to study the use of plants with medicinal purpose in people living with HIV/AIDS and using retroviral therapy. A total of 339 (three hundred and thirty-nine) people answered a questionnaire about the use of plants and demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral characteristics, including those related to HIV status and use of antiretroviral therapy The prevalence of the use of plants with medicinal purpose was 34,81%. The most often used were: Turnera ulmifolia (chanana) (12,09%), Melissa officinalis (erva cidreira,) (10,62%), Plectranthus barbatus (boldo) (7,67%), Cymbopogan citratus (capim limão) (4,72%) and Mentha spp. (hortelã) (2,36%). Most people interviewed (96,61%) reported improvement after use. A rate of 75,42% of the plant users had not reported their practice to a medical doctor. Among respondents who reported use, 55.17% said their doctor agreed to it, and only one person was advised to discontinue the use (3,45%); only one doctor (3,45%) indicated the use of plants. Multivariate analysis showed differences for the use of plants in relation to gender (female PR= 1,58, 95% CI 1,15 - 2,15 p 0,004) and homosexual practices (PR= 0,63, CI 0,44 - 0,90 p 0,012). This study highlights the need for a better dialogue between doctors and patients about the use of plants with medicinal purposes, and warns about possible dangers when they are combined with antirretroviral therapy, particularly between female and homossexual users.

Plants With Medicinal Purpose; HIV; Antiretrovirals

Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo. Associação Paulista de Saúde Pública. Av. dr. Arnaldo, 715, Prédio da Biblioteca, 2º andar sala 2, 01246-904 São Paulo - SP - Brasil, Tel./Fax: +55 11 3061-7880 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil