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Adherence Matters

Discover Adherence Tips that May do the Trick for You

Tips from Patients

November 1999

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

AIDS Council of New South Wales Inc. (ACON) is a community-based organization in Australia's State of New South Wales serving HIV-positive men, women and children; the gay and lesbian community, including transgender people; and those people involved in the community response to HIV/AIDS.

In the October edition of Positive Living, this column featured adherence advice from ACON. Here are some additional tips from ACON on how to fit drugs into your daily routine.

  • Sue: "I'm taking indinavir, so I leave them on my bedside table. That way the first thing I do when I wake up is take the pills. I always wake up at the same time even on weekends -- so I take them and roll over and have a Sunday sleep in."

  • Rob: "At first I found the middle of the afternoon dose of saquinavir difficult to take. Now I try to have a late lunch break. I figure if I take it an hour after lunch it's still with food. Or I have a mid-afternoon pig-out... a milkshake and some hot chips or a packet of peanuts for afternoon tea."

  • Leanne: "When I was deciding which combination to take, my doctor and I talked about my daily routine. I hadn't realize up until then how obsessed I am with cleaning my teeth. I keep my pills in my toiletries bag next to my toothbrush in my locker at work. I've forgotten to take them a couple of times in the last few months, but... I'm more worried about not cleaning my teeth."


  • Peter: "Oh! It's so much easier since I switched my combo. I'm doing d4t, saquinavir and ritonavir twice a day with food which means I have them with breakfast and then with dinner in the evening."

  • Steve: "I take my ddI when I get up. By the time I've had a shower, done my morning meditation and ironed a shirt for work I can sit down and relax over breakfast. My boss is amazed, I haven't been late for work since I started my routine."

  • Alan: "Working rotating shifts put me off starting treatment for a while. I try to think about eight-hour blocks instead of mealtimes. But it hasn't always been successful. I'm seeing my doctor next week. I don't know if I can keep it up. See if I can't switch to something that only needs to be taken every 12 hours. I panic a bit if I've missed a dose, but my viral load is slowly going down so it's OK at the moment."

  • Josh: "I'm not a morning person. I can't do anything until I've had a few cups of coffee. I kept forgetting my morning doses, my boyfriend suggested I tape a pill bottle to the coffee jar. I throw them down with a glass of water before my coffee now... it seems to be working... my viral load is undetectable."

  • Peter: "I'm really slack. I'd forget without some help. I'm always running around the city for work, so I use my paging service. It costs me about $12 a month, I reckon that's pretty good value."

  • Jenny: "Weekends are the worst. I go out raging (partying) most Saturday nights, so I don't know where I'll end up if you know what I mean. But I take my morning supply out with me in a pill box the night before. Someone told me you can leave one dose of ritonavir out of the fridge for up to 12 hours -it's been much easier since I started doing that."

  • David: "The middle-of-the-day dose is the hardest for me, especially at weekends. I'm trying to cut down on my smoking, so I've started smoking rollies (cigarettes you roll yourself). Now I keep them (the pills) in a film container in my tobacco pouch. I've gotten so used to rolling a cigarette during my afternoon coffee break when four o'clock rolls around, even on weekends, I'm craving a smoke -- I just take them then. Dunno what I'm going to do when I quit the ciggies though."

Have supplies of your drugs at places where you know you'll be -- at work, at a friend's place, in your boyfriend's or girlfriend's fridge (keep secure from young children).

  • Take supplies with you wherever you go (backpack, handbag, briefcase -- so long as they don't need to be kept in the fridge).

  • If you're always busy and use an appointments diary -- mark in your diary.

  • Use a pocket timer, beeper or a wristwatch with an alarm.

  • Pill boxes or zip lock bags. Ask your physician, pharmacist, or treatment advocate for seven-day pill boxes.

  • If they don't need to be kept in the fridge, store some near your toothbrush.

  • Use a paging reminder service.

  • Keep Post-It notes on bathroom mirrors, in your car, and on your calendar to remind you to take your meds.

  • Tape your schedule to your refrigerator door.

  • Cut out your favorite illustrations from Positive Living to remind you to take your meds.

  • Ask someone you live with (spouse, partner, family member, roommate) to help you remember to take your pills at the prescribed time.

This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.
See Also
6 Reasons Why People Skip Their HIV Meds
Word on the Street: Advice on Adhering to HIV Treatment
Adherence Tips