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Chinese Medicine: Where Does It Work Best in HIV/AIDS?



In San Francisco, where Chinese medical treatment has been funded for three years by the Ryan White CARE Act, the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine has treated over 300 symptomatic HIV-positive patients in long-term care. A study of the medical records of these patients, and of quarterly health surveys, has identified seven HIV-related conditions which appear to be most responsive to Chinese medicine.

These seven conditions are: weight loss; diarrhea/loose stools; abdominal pain; nausea; headaches; enlarged lymph nodes; and neuropathy.

Note: The American College of Traditional and Chinese Medicine can be reached at 415/282-9603.

Reimbursement Issues After many years of refusing to pay for "alternative" care such as traditional Chinese medicine, the trend today is toward coverage by insurers and other third-party payers. The reason is that alternative care usually costs much less than Western medicine, and companies can save money by paying for it.

In San Francisco, acupuncture was covered under the health plan for city employees for several years, but was discontinued last year due to a budget shortage. It has now been restored effective July 1. But the San Francisco plan has only covered acupuncture; other parts of traditional Chinese medicine, such as herbal treatment, have had to be paid by the individual. There is now a movement to expand coverage for San Francisco employees, and for others; San Francisco supervisor Angela Alioto has been very supportive.

The state of California has licensed acupuncturists for many years. (The law also allows medical doctors to practice acupuncture, regardless of whether they have been licensed or trained to do so.) California law requires health insurance companies which have their home office in California, and which are not HMOs or PPOs, to cover acupuncture treatment. Many of these companies, however, have ignored the law and refused to do so.

For information on how you can help to expand health-care coverage for traditional Chinese medicine in San Francisco and in California, call George Wedemeyer at 415/661-2080.


Copyright © 1995 -AIDS Treatment News, Publisher. All rights reserved to AIDS Treatment News (ATN), Email AIDS Treatment News .

Information in this article was accurate in June 2, 1995. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.