Complementary Medicine and HIV: A New Age
Times were when believers in conventional Western medicine and acolytes of the kind of medicine variously called "traditional," "natural," or otherwise "alternative," snarled at each other from opposite sides of a vast ravine when it came to the treatment of HIV and AIDS. Those on one side sneered at the idea that such "New Age" snake oil could keep HIV-positive people healthy or slow the progress of AIDS. Those on the other side eschewed the often harsh toxicities of the largely ineffective first monotherapies created by Western medicine and took the "natural" route -- figuring that, at very least, it would make daily life easier.
Enter protease inhibitors, which, used along with older drugs, have scored Western medicine's first big points against HIV/AIDS. Unconventional therapies have gained renewed popularity in the HIV/AIDS community as vital contributors to side effect management and quality of life for PLWAs. Thus the term complementary medicine is now widely used to describe the role these treatments play in working with, not instead of, a patient's standard drug regimen.
Presented neither as an endorsement nor a denouncement of complementary medicine, but as a service to the many people in the PLWA community who have asked us to cover the subject, this issue of CRIA Update
is both an exploration of and a practical user's companion to the current state of complementary therapies. Guest-edited by Pamela Miles, an independent clinician, educator, writer and researcher in the field of complementary medicine, it starts off with her concise, comprehensive overview of the array of complementary therapies now available -- including information on how many of them can be accessed. Then Robert Schmehr, manager of complementary therapy at the HIV/AIDS Center of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, looks at HIV-oriented complementary therapy "in action" at sites around the country.
We also include an article that explores the relationship between complementary medicine and western medical research -- and specifically, why it's so hard for the Western medical establishment to get what it most wants when it comes to complementary medicine and HIV -- cold, hard facts about its efficacy. We also include a "short list" of natural remedies for many (often HIV-related) maladies, and a resource page to direct you to more products and services, many free to those living with HIV/AIDS.
No matter what the reader thinks about the value of complementary medicines, a majority of those who subscribe to these treatments firmly believe that they contribute to an increased sense of well-being. We hope you enjoy the issue ... and have a happy and healthful summer.
-- J. Daniel Stricker, Editor-in Chief
In Memoriam: David Seidner (1957-1999)
It is with great sadness that we report the death of longtime CRIA board member David Seidner, who lost his 15-year struggle against AIDS on Sunday, June 6th. In his all-too-brief 42 years, David made a major impact on fashion photography with signature portraits that merged photography with painting. However, it is his strong and ardent advocacy for increased AIDS research that will be most missed by everyone at CRIA. Although David's death is a sobering reminder that AIDS is still claiming the lives of loved ones, his firm belief that careful science would one day bring an end to this epidemic will continue to guide CRIA's efforts.
CRIA co-sponsors monthly educational forums on AIDS research and treatment issues. Upcoming forums:
Wednesday, July 14
Substance Use and HIV Therapy
Wednesday, September 22
Preventative Therapies: Can I Stop Taking Bactrim?
The forums are held at 7PM in the Cronin Auditorium, 10th Floor of St. Vincent's Hospital at 11th Street and 7th Avenue, Manhattan. Forum summaries are now available on CRIA's website: www.aidsinfonyc.org/cria.