Complementary / alternative therapy is the term generally used for health practices or treatments that are not part of conventional western medicine or healthcare e.g. Reflexology, Shiatsu, Yoga, and Aromatherapy.
Some people living with HIV choose to use certain complementary therapies alongside their drug treatments in order to help reduce stress and anxiety levels, to relieve some of the side effects of conventional drug treatments, and to help with pain relief.
Complementary therapy refers to practices that are often used together with conventional medicine and drug treatments. There are many different types of complementary therapy.
Massage is a physical therapy involving therapeutic touch to relax and relieve tension or pain.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils and aromatic plant extracts.
Reflexology involves foot and hand massage.
Shiatsu is a massage based therapy that focuses on energy flow in the body.
Yoga is a physical therapy based on breathing exercises and forming specific body positions and postures.
Reiki is a Japanese therapy that involves the therapist placing their hands on or above your body in order to channel your energy.
Meditation involves reflection or concentration to enable relaxation
Acupuncture involves puncturing the skin with needles in defined points to relieve the symptoms of certain conditions, such as pain.
Herbal remedies involve the use of plants or plant extracts to treat health conditions.
There are also other complementary therapies that you may want to find out more about. Go to AVERT charity website for more information.
If you are considering using complementary therapy to help with reducing stress and anxiety levels, to relieve some of the side effects of your HIV drug treatments, or to help with pain relief, it’s a good idea to talk to your consultant or specialist HIV nurse. Also check that the person offering complementary therapy is qualified and registered to deliver their specific therapy.
It is also important to understand that complementary therapy cannot replace your HIV drug treatments which have been prescribed to help manage your health.
Alternative therapy or medicine refers to practices used instead of conventional medicine rather than alongside it, and are more likely to be used in parts of the world where it is difficult to access Western medicine.
Because the current drug treatments used to treat HIV have been scientifically researched and tested and are very effective in reducing the impact of the virus, there is less demand for alternative medicine in the UK.
Some alternative therapies also claim to treat or cure HIV, but none have been proven to achieve this.
Again talk to your consultant or specialist HIV nurse about any questions or issues you may have about alternative therapies.