Alternative or complementary treatments may be used in conjunction with HAART. These treatments are usually proposed for symptomatic relief and not to treat HIV or AIDS directly. There is no alternative therapy that will fight HIV effectively or cure HIV/AIDS.
Alternative medicines are most commonly used in areas where Western medicine is not easily accessible. Traditional healers practice in Africa and less developed countries, but many people turn to herbal medicine to complement their conventional HAART medicine treatments.
Many doctors use traditional Chinese herbs or Ayurveda to combat symptoms of HIV, such as pain, nausea, and tiredness. Although the effectiveness of these therapies has not been established, many patients find relief from Eastern practices. Many of these practices, including Naturopathic, Chinese, and Ayurvedic medicine, also incorporate diet modification, acupuncture, energy medicine, meditation, yoga, and massage in conjunction with herbs to relieve symptoms.
Daily doses of certain vitamins and minerals have been shown to subdue HIV, but not to cure the infection. Multi-vitamins, especially for HIV-positive pregnant women, have been found to benefit both mother and child.
Some HIV-positive individuals are B12 and folate deficient, which can lead to anemia, rashes, fatigue, and depression.
Selenium may suppress HIV viral burden by improving the CD4 count, while Carnitine helps prevent wasting, oxidizes fatty acids, and helps prevents death of CD4 and CD8 cells.
Calcium and Vitamin D improve bone density and help prevent bone loss in weakened HIV patients.
Vitamin A may be beneficial in children for reducing mortality and improving growth, while zinc is essential in maintaining the immune system, and iron helps prevent anemia, a common effect of HIV.