Acupuncture for HIV Side Effects


AA HIVAIDSMore than 1.1 million Americans live with HIV (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 3, 2013 report).  In North Carolina, according to the N.C. Communicable Disease Branch, New Hanover County comes in at No. 7 in the state for the number of patients living with HIV/AIDS.  The most recent statistics available list 584 people in Wilmington and other parts of New Hanover County, 148 people in Brunswick County, 163 in Columbus County and 60 people in Pender County.

Thankfully, continued advancements in Western medicine often allow people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to live longer, healthier lives. As with most medications, though, HIV-related treatments frequently induce a host of negative side effects.  According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, “the largest single provider of HIV care in the United States”, some of the most common side effects include:

  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Pain and Nerve Problems
  • Rash
  • Weight Loss

Although the VA mentions several home remedies for each of the aforementioned side effects, they overlook one potentially significant treatment: acupuncture.

The benefits of acupuncture have long been recognized for pain. However, within the last decade, Western science has begun to appreciate the benefits of acupuncture for other ailments as well. A 2005 study performed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, reported that acupuncture relieves the bloating, cramping, and appetite loss commonly experienced while taking HIV-related medicine (Source: WebMD News Archive).

Proponents of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believe that optimal health is achieved when the body’s energy levels are in alignment and unobstructed. When stressors or blockages are introduced – in this case, when HIV-related drugs enter the body – they often attack more than one body system. To experience relief, the body needs help finding the necessary energy to realign its systems.

Acupuncture for HIV side effects focuses on specific areas of the body known as meridian points. Each meridian is a direct connection (although not necessarily adjacent) to a specific area of the body. Let’s consider such HIV-related gastrointestinal (GI) problems as nausea and bloating.

When the corresponding meridians are gently stimulated, they send the necessary energy to the associated body system, enabling it to defend itself and ward off further attacks. According to New York University’s Langone Medical Center, individuals with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (HAART) who underwent four weeks of acupuncture treatment combined with relaxation therapy, experienced greater improvements in their GI symptoms than the other groups in a recent study.

In addition to benefiting one’s physical ailments, acupuncture for HIV side effects can also alleviate the emotional stress and depression and that often accompanies HIV treatments. As Claudia Briones, a student at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), expressed in her published research paper: “[F]or patients with HIV, the maintenance or the improvement of quality of life through acupuncture can help prevent disease progression”.

Similarly, the University of Maryland Medical Center states: “Many people with HIV turn to complementary and alternative therapies to reduce symptoms of the virus, lessen side effects from medications, improve overall health and well being, and gain a sense of empowerment by being actively involved in their own care”.

With a preliminary report stating that there have been 1,006 reported new diagnoses of HIV in North Carolina alone during the first six months of 2014 (Source: NC Dept. Health & Human Services), the need for supportive, quality care remains high. HIV-infected individuals living in Wilmington, North Carolina and its surrounding areas can rest assured that Acupuncture Associates will provide the care and dignity that you deserve. As with any patient in treatment for any condition, Robert will take the time to ask detailed questions about your symptoms so that he can precisely and effectively treat your HIV-related side effects. Schedule your acupuncture appointment today.



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