Why it’s so important to stick to your ARV treatment schedule

By October 21, 2015Infections

ARV treatment doesn’t cure you of HIV, it only helps to keep the infection under control so that you can stay healthy for as long as possible Download The Car Detective. If you do not take your ARVs as prescribed, you’re putting yourself in danger. Some of the risks include:

1. Your HIV infection may become resistant to the medication – this means that the treatment will no longer keep the infection under control because the virus finds ways to protect itself from the ARVs. Also, you’ll never be able to use that particular medication again – it will not work and please remember that there’re only a limited number of drugs used in treating HIV.

2. The virus will be able to replicate and you’ll end up with a high viral load in your body – a high viral load means that treatment is failing and your body is becoming weak

3. The HIV infection will progress and you’ll become ill. To succeed in treating HIV, it’s up to you to be responsible for your health – take your medication exactly as directed. ARV treatment used to be complicated with many different pills to take, but these days combined pills are available, which means you only need to take one tablet once or twice a day – much easier to remember!

ARVs leave the body quickly, which is why you need to take your medication regularly – ensuring that there is always the correct level of medication in your blood stream working to keep the HIV under control.

As soon as you skip a dose, it gives the HIV a chance to recover slightly, start replicating and learn ways to fight the medication you’re using – scary, hey!

So how can you ensure that you adhere to your treatment schedule? Here’re some tips:

  • Practice first with jellybeans- if you find the schedule difficult to follow then at least you can work with your doctor to iron out issues before you start taking the real medication
  • At the beginning of each week, divide your pills up into daily doses using a pill box – this way you simply need to open up the correct day and drink your tablets. Planning makes pill taking much easier
  • Work your pill taking into your daily routine- for example take them after brushing your teeth and leave your pill box next to the tooth paste in your bathroom cupboard (make sure this is out of children’s reach!)
  • Make sure you do not run short- keep an emergency supply of a few pills for just in case
  • Set an alarm on your phone to go off each day at the correct time to take your tablets
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If you find that you keep missing your dose, do not be afraid to ask for help- that is what doctors and other medical professionals are there for, to help you!

You can try and work out together why it is you are struggling – are you having unpleasant side-effects? Your doctor could help you find a way to manage this, or perhaps you need to change to a different drug – not everyone tolerates medications in the same way.

The main goal is to keep yourself as healthy as possible, for as long as possible and by using your medication correctly you are increasing your likelihood of success.

Need some additional help staying on track? Speak to our doctors directly. You can ask our doctors a variety of questions at the touch of a button. Simply sign up on our website, and download the free Hello Doctor app from the Google Play or iTunes store. With the app, you can talk to, or text our doctors, anytime, anywhere!