Taking antiretroviral drugs for
HIV will not cure your infection. But it may allow you
to stay healthy for a long time.
Your willingness and ability to
follow your antiretroviral therapy schedule exactly as prescribed is essential
for successful treatment of your HIV infection. Not following your prescribed
HIV therapy may cause treatment failures, such as:
Drug resistance. The virus that causes HIV can become resistant to
antiretroviral drugs used to treat the infection.
viral loads. This measures how much HIV is present in your blood.
In the past a person had to take many pills several times a
day, which was hard for some people. But over the past few years, this
routine has become much simpler, and people take their medicine only once or
twice a day. With the right knowledge and tools, you can successfully take your
medicine as prescribed.
How can you take your antiretroviral therapy drugs as prescribed?
In the past, a person had to take many pills several
times a day, which was hard for some people. But over the past few years
this routine has become much simpler. Now people take their medicine only once
or twice a day. With the right knowledge and tools, you can successfully take
your medicine as prescribed.
Work with your doctor when starting
Know the names of all of your drugs.
Get a clear explanation of the actions and
purpose of each of your drugs. If you understand what you are taking and how it
is helping you, it may be easier to stay on your schedule.
Know when to take your medicine. Write down when to take your medicine, and have your doctor
check it. Get pictures of all of your drugs so you are sure you are taking the
right drug and the right dose at the right time. Be sure you understand how
much of each drug to take and when to take each one.
Know how to handle missed doses. Talk with your doctor about
what you should do if you accidentally miss a dose of a drug. Discuss what to
do for each drug—it may be different for each one.
Learn what other drugs to avoid. Some drugs can
cause a bad reaction or a decrease in effectiveness if they are taken with
Keep the following in mind:
Store drugs properly.
Keeping drugs in a location that is too hot or too cold may decrease their
effectiveness. Find out from your doctor or pharmacist how to properly store
your drugs. Always store drugs out of the reach of children.
Watch for side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what to
expect. Notify your doctor immediately if you have any serious side effects.
Avoid other drugs. Post your drugs-to-avoid
list in a place where you can refer to it whenever you need to. Always check
with your doctor before taking any additional drugs, prescription or
nonprescription. This includes any herbal or "natural" supplements.
Review your drug list. Review your list and
bring it with you each time you visit with your doctor. Tell your doctor about
any side effects you are having.
Communicate with your doctor. Notify your doctor immediately if you have any serious side
effects. Let your doctor know if you have any changes in your health that might
affect your condition, such as weight loss or another medical condition.
You may be able to reduce the costs of your antiretroviral
drugs and other drugs.
Compare prices among several
Consider using a mail-order or online drugstore.
Every state has a program (called the Ryan White Care Act) that helps pay the cost of HIV medicines for people who can't afford them.
Companies that make HIV medicine have programs to provide their medicine at a reduced cost for people who can't afford them.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.