Getting Ready for Adherence
Starting medications is like starting a new relationship. You have to be ready for it.
Every relationship means that you have to change or adjust a part of your life to accompany your new partner. Part of life with HIV meds is making those changes. You can do it.
For those starting meds
If you are thinking about starting medications, make sure you are ready to make a lifelong commitment.
Taking anti-HIV drugs can prolong and change your life. However, these drugs have special rules and may only work if you take them properly. If you don't follow the prescribed dosage precisely, the virus can become resistant and start to ignore the drugs.
The drugs you are taking will stop working and other anti-HIV drugs may not work later.
If you cannot take your medications consistently and precisely, you might be better off delaying treatment. So it is crucial to take time to choose the right drug combinations so that you can make the most out of your HIV treatment.
Before starting your regimen, it may be helpful to practice with plain gelatin capsules and follow the dosing schedule of the HIV regimen you plan to go on. You should also take the gelatin capsules with the same dietary restrictions as the HIV meds. Large-chain pharmacies and health food stores carry plain gelatin capsules. Some pharmacies that do not have it on hand will order it for you on request.
Special PI considerations
One of the major concerns for using protease inhibitors is redistribution of body fat, or lipodystrophy, that has been observed in some people who have been on long-term protease inhibitor (PI) therapy. The most commonly accepted descriptions of lipodystrophy may include buffalo hump, protease paunch, and wasting in the face and limbs.
Studies are continuing to determine the metabolic effects of PIs. Until now, physicians feel that the benefits of PIs significantly outweigh the risks, in terms of fat distribution, potential for heart problems and other negative health outcomes.
Those of you who are already on antiretroviral therapy know that is can be difficult at times to take your medication as prescribed. To help you, a chart addressing many common concerns regarding adherence can be found on the following pages.
This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.