Factors influencing the use of herbal medicines among HIV-infected patients at Mbagathi District hospital, in Nairobi province, Kenya
Njuguna, Heather W
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Herbal medicine is a form of traditional/complementary and alternative medicine that has been in practice for many years due to the medicinal value found in herbs. Its use has increased in popularity despite the presence of free conventional therapy especially among HIV -infected patients. The main objective of this study was to determine the factors influencing the use of herbal medicine by HIV -infected patients. This was a cross-sectional study were 200 HIV -infected adults attending the CCC facility at Mbagathi District hospital. The main method of data collection tool was a structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data which was mainly categorical. Level of significance was fixed at 0.05 (p=0.05) with a 95% confidence interval. Data was presented using tables to provide an overview of the study findings. The results showed that the use of herbal medicine was low among HIV patients visiting formal hospital is limited (18% of the patients). This was in contrast to WHO estimate that 80% of the general populace in developing countries uses herbal medicine. This could be attributed to an understanding by the general public that the HIV was incurable but it could be managed with ARV therapy which was only available as conventional drugs. The 18% could however not be ignored as it comprised the usage of herbal medicine for treatment of opportunistic diseases which infects immune-compromised HIV patients. Low socio economic status was the main reason why some patients use herbal medicines, although advertisement through the media was also influential. The study provided useful information that could be used to develop evidence-based decisions and formulation of strategies for improving the care and treatment policies for HIV -infected patients in the context of herbal medicine use. Results could also assist health policy makers to control use and advertisement of herbal medicines and its incorporation in health care in HIV management.