Mr Ifeanyi Ezeudemba, a Pharmacist with AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF), an NGO, in an iterview with the News Agency of Nigeria has warned people living with HIV and AIDS to refrain from co-administration of anti-retroviral (ARV) medications and herbal medicines.
According to him, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that about two-thirds of persons living with HIV in developing countries use traditional herbal medicines.
He said herbal medicines are perceived by those who use them as to have advantages over conventional drugs.
He noted such perceived advantages to include potent healing properties, safety from being largely organic, and easily accessible and affordable by majority who are unable to bear the cost of conventional drugs.
Ezeudemba however said that one major risk of co-administration of anti-retroviral medications and herbal medicines was the possible alteration of the potent elements in ARVs.
“The alteration of the potent elements in ARVs pharmacokinetic properties, adversely affects the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of ARVs.
“This ultimately reduces the quantities of ARV drug concentration to suppress the HIV in the human system, which also can lead to the development of resistance and HIV treatment failure.
“Also the potential interaction between certain herbal medicines and ARVs may lead to toxicity, he added.
Ezeudemba further advised patients undergoing anti-retroviral therapy to desist from self-medication and seek professional advice from health care providers if they desire to use other medications in addition to their ARVs.
The pharmacist called on pharmaceutical research organisations to standardise herbal medicines and provide more evidence based guide on co-administration of herbal medicines and ARV drugs to avoid unwanted consequences.