Comorbidities of HIV Infection and Health Care Seeking Behavior among HIV Infected Patients Attending Public Sector Healthcare Facilities in KwaZulu-Natal: A Cross Sectional Study

A cross sectional study, using researcher-administered questionnaires, was carried out among HIV-infected patients in eight public sector healthcare facilities in KwaZulu-Natal between April and October 1024. Self-reports of comorbidities, co-infections and side effects were analyzed with respect to factors such as age, gender, race, and health care seeking behavior including the use of traditional medicine. Cross-tabulations were conducted to test the association between factors and the use of traditional medicine, using Pearson chi-squared (χ2) test. Simple and multiple logistic regression models tested the association of the use of traditional medicine with age, gender, race, side effects and comorbidities. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were estimated. Missing values were handled, defined and treated as missing values in the final analysis.

Overall, 29.5% (n = 516) of the survey participants reported having other comorbidities and or co-infections besides their HIV condition. Same participants reported two or more comorbidities. Almost forty percent of participants (208/531, 39.17%) reported having hypertension as the most noninfectious comorbidity while 21.65% of participants (115/531) had tuberculosis accounting for the most infectious comorbidity. Almost eight percent of participants (142/1748, 8.12%) reported using traditional medicine after starting with cART. Sixty out of 142 participants (60/142, 42.25%) on cART resorted to the use of traditional medicine for the management of comorbidities and or co-infections of their HIV infection. Overall, 311 out of 1748 participants (17.80%) complained of ARVs related side-effects. Forty-five percent of those with side-effects (141/311, 45.34%) reported taking various types of medicines for treating side-effects, with 90.07% of them (127/141) using medicines prescribed by biomedically trained doctors or by pharmacy personnel as over-the -counter medicines, p <0. 001. Very few participants (14/141, 9.93%) resorted to the use of traditional medicine for treating side effects associated with antiretroviral therapy with no significant difference (p=0.293). In a multiple logistic regression, after adjusting for age, gender, race and side-effects due to antiretroviral therapy, odds for using traditional medicine were almost two times higher [odds ratio = 1.884, 95% Confidence Interval 1.317–2.695] with those participants having comorbidities and co-infections, with a significant difference p-value< 0.001.

Comorbidities, co-infections and side effects are prevalent among HIV-infected patients attending public sector healthcare facilities. Odds of using traditional medicine were almost two times higher and significantly associated with the presence of comorbidities and co-infections than for other factors. The presence of such comorbid health problems does not explain the increased use of traditional medicine among HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy. Findings from this study should be interpreted cautiously as they cannot be generalized to the entire population of HIV-infected patients in KwaZulu-Natal. Studies on safety and efficacy of herbal traditional medicines are needed for beneficiation of the minority of patients who still resort to them for co-treatment with combination antiretroviral therapy.

Manimbulu Nlooto
PLoS One
Publication Date: 
February, 2017
IBN number: