Popular Use of Traditional Chinese Medicine in HIV Patients in the HAART era

Kurtland Ma; Shui-Shan Lee; Elsie K. Y. Chu; Dennise K. P. Tam; Victoria S. C. Kwong; Choi-Fung Ho; Kathy Cheng; Ka-Hing Wong


AIDS and Behavior. 2008;12(4):637-642. 

In This Article



This study forms part of a questionnaire survey administered to male patients attending the Integrated Treatment Centre (ITC),a purpose-built HIV specialist service operated by the Department of Health in Hong Kong. The clinic has an active caseload of about 800. The number of female patients is very small in the cohort and we have therefore decided to focus on male patients in this study. HAART is prescribed in accordance with guidelines following the principles established by the Panel on Clinical Practices for Treatment of HIV Infection convened by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (CDC, 1998). The inclusion criteria were: (a) on HAART for one year or more; (b) Chinese; and (c) consent to join the study.


A self-administered anonymised questionnaire survey was administered to eligible patients. The respondents were asked to complete it while waiting for/after consultation at the Centre in confidence. Questions in the survey covered the following areas:(a) report of TCM use, (b) general beliefs and perception about TCM; (c) association of TCM use with HAART, and (d) sources of advice on TCM. TCM use was defined as the consumption of recipes as prescribed by TCM practitioners, products perceived to be TCM in nature and purchased over the counter (OTC) or provided by other people, like friends or relatives. This relatively loose definition was used in order to capture all potentially relevant information as well as the perception of individuals.The questionnaires were coded and additional information was retrieved from the clinical information system, with the consent of the patients: latest clinical staging (CDC, 1992); CD4 and viral load readings.

A research nurse presented all interested patients during the study period with an explanation of the study, a consent form,and the self-administered questionnaire for completion.

Data Analysis

Chi-square test and odds ratio were used to calculate the association between categorical data, and these were applied to the comparison between TCM users and non-TCM users, as well as Common and Infrequent TCM users. Comparison on continuous data was calculated by non-parametric tests (Mann-Whitney U Test) since data was not normally distributed, and it was only applied to the comparison between TCM users and non-TCM users.


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