Accepted paper:

On Buah Merah and Virgin coconut oil: an exploratory study of complementary medicine use among people living with HIV/AIDS in West Java


Anita Hardon (Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam)

Paper abstract:

This paper focuses on the use of complementary medicine in HIV/AIDS. Ethnographic fieldwork on treatment practices of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) in West-Java shows that a wide range of jamu are used to delay onset of HIV/AIDS, alleviate side-effects of modern AIDS drugs and promote health. AIDS doctors discourage the use of complementary medicines, fearing that they may interfere with the efficacy of AIDS medicines, and support groups of PLWA reinforce this biomedical discourse. Two specific preparations - Buah Mera and Virgin Coconut Oil - are considered particularly potent by our informants. Our analysis of the efficacy claims of these products suggests that they drugs are marketed for treatment of HIV/AIDS, making use of biomedical safety and efficacy claims, and detailed dosage advice. Our informants were most ambivalent about the efficacies of these drugs, possibly because they are marketed as 'competitors' for modern AIDS medicines, and not as complementary medicines.

panel W072
Complementary and alternative medicines and biomedicine in chronic diseases: what do we learn from the margins?