May 21, 2014
Keeping up with an HIV medication regimen is a struggle that many people who are living with HIV have. However, very few people want to speak out about it. "If medication is saving your life, why wouldn't you remember to take it every day?" some might say. However, for those who are having trouble adhering, support is crucial. One of the best ways to adhere to your meds is to establish a daily routine that makes taking medication as normal as possible. Here, a few people living with HIV discuss their feelings on regimen routines.
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So what is your treatment like on the HIV side? What are the adherence issues that you may have or you know, how do you deal with taking your meds for bipolar disorder and also HIV? Is that hard for you?
It's become a daily routine for me. I incorporate it into my morning routine of having coffee. You know, you get up, you do the "shower and shave" bit and then when I'm about to have coffee, I always make it a point to be the first thing I do with my first sip, take my medicine. As far as adherence, I find that one of the medications I take I have to take twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. The majority of the medications, the other medications, are all at once in the morning. So that's easy. The hard part is that last one at the end of the night. Because, sometimes, I forget. I go to bed, and I'll be in bed already and the medicine is only like three or four feet away, right next to my bed. And for some reason, I just won't take it sometimes, you know I'll be like "Oh, whatever." And then there are times that I kick myself in the butt, and I say "Get up, it's only three or four feet away, go and take your medicine." And so what I've learned is to dry swallow [laughs], cause I won't have anything to drink and that's usually a good excuse. "I don't have anything to drink," or, "I don't wanna go downstairs to get a glass." And so, now, it's like: get up, take it, dry swallow and forget about it. You know?
How adherent are you? Have you never missed a dose?
No, I have missed doses.
How do you arrange to remember to take your meds on time?
I take them as soon as I wake up, so I keep a bottle of water and medicine right next to the bed. So my alarm goes off at 5:30. At 5:30, I roll over and take my medicine, [which consists of Reyataz, Combivir and Norvir], whether I get up or not, the water and the medicine's right there on the side of the bed , so I take it right then and there. Then my p.m. medicine, I'll take during the day. But it's the Combivir that I take twice a day. I'll take just the Combivir with me in a little, small discrete pillbox. I'll take it during lunch or when I'm having an early dinner. But I have an alarm on my phone that'll go off to remind me to take it.
In the beginning, was it a little harder to adhere to your medication? Are there any tricks or tips that you use to help you adhere?
Well, in the beginning, I never missed any doses. I've always been really good about that. I still don't think I've ever missed a dose. But in the beginning I was going to bed at random hours of the night. And so the window I was taking it in was like a five-hour window, instead of a two-hour window. And so I mean it was a little more chaotic. I would remember to take it, but my schedule was crazy, crazy back then.
So it's actually helped you regulate your own schedule.
Yeah. It's helped being in a routine and having a better sleeping schedule.
How do you make sure you adhere to your medication?
Well, I set myself on a timer. When I get up in the morning, I take them. I can take the Combivir and Kaletra on an empty stomach. Then I eat my breakfast. Then, before I eat supper, I take them again, or after -- about an hour after I eat supper. So I take them in the morning when I get up, and then at night when I go to bed.
Has it been hard for you to take your medication? In the beginning was it harder? Or were you just like, "I want to live and I'll just take them"?
Well, I knew that I had seen so many people that started on their meds and stopped, and then they didn't make it. So I think that was the adhering part for me. I had a good doctor, and she told me, "If you've got a problem, call me." So that helped.
And some of the meds I did go on didn't agree with me. So I went to her and she'd change it. I didn't stop on my own, though. Because when I started she told me, "Once you stop, you're making your body, uh ..."
"... resist the meds." So I listened to her.
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