Adherence tips to HIV treatment
In many of the treatments, but especially in those that are very specific, such as those for HIV, the great problem of adherence arises. If antiretroviral drugs are not taken in the amount and for the length of time prescribed, it is very likely that HIV will find an opportunity to replicate and continue to damage the immune system.
This is why adherence to treatment is so important. To achieve this, it is necessary for the person to attend all their medical appointments, since it is at these times that tests will be carried out to verify that the treatment is adequately fulfilling its mission, which is to keep the virus under control.
Responsibility for your health
Outside of medical consultations, the responsibility for adhering to treatment belongs to you. Since antiretroviral drugs must be taken on highly specific schedules to work as they should, it’s critical that you count with the discipline to follow them.
But sometimes, whether due to the social, family or work context; for his state of mental health; due to their daily activities, or lack of access to medical care, among other factors, people with HIV may forget their medications, which negatively affects their effectiveness.
In order to avoid this, you can follow some of these tips, designed by the US government’s HIV web portal, to improve adherence and, therefore, the results of antiretroviral treatment.
- Get a pillbox marked with the days of the week, so you won’t be in doubt if you’ve already taken your dose for each day. You can also fill it once a week, always on the same day, to create a routine.
- Take your medications at the same time each day. If you can, associate it with some other activity (waking up, after bathing, at mealtime), so it will become part of your daily routine.
- Don’t trust yourself and set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you to take your medications at that time.
- Ask a family member or friend to remind you that you should take your medications, so you will have a backup in case you might forget, and that person will know that they are really supporting you in something that is important for your well-being.
- Plan ahead for changes in routine, for example, if you’re going to leave too early for a picnic or if you’re going on a trip for several days. Pack enough medicine for the days of your trip. If you’re going to change time zones (even if it’s just a one-hour shift), set your alarms to keep ringing at the same interval as when you’re home.
- Keep a medication diary, either online or on paper, where you can note whether you took your medications on time and, if not, why you forgot. This will help you to identify when you are having a problem with feeding, and you may be able to discuss it with your doctor to find a solution.
- Go to your medical appointments on time and try to always refill your medications before they run out.
In addition to these tips, it is also useful to write down the questions you want to ask your doctor on the day of the consultation, since it is common that in the rush or nervousness that doctors generate in some people, you forget to raise important concerns. Take your list of questions and be an active part of your treatment and care.
HIV requires lifelong treatment, but fortunately, the most modern treatments are once a day, which makes it much easier to take. Take into account that if the treatment you start with fails, possibly the next one prescribed will be a little more complex to take.
And remember that if you live with HIV and had to suspend your treatment or want to start it, at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we can help you. Locate our nearest office in your country or write to us by Whatsapp.