WHAT IT MEANS Taking your
HIV medications as directed: number of doses per day, number of pills
per dose, with food or on an empty stomach. Your doctor should spell
out these rules before writing the prescriptions for your combination,
and once you fill them, the labels on the bottles will remind you.
WHY IT MATTERS The
HIV in your body can become resistant to a drug if your blood doesn’t
get a steady supply—crossing that drug (and maybe others like it) off
your list of treatment options for good.
HOW TO With the real world
outside your doctor’s office (and your own stubborn self) conspiring to
slip you up, you may need help staying on schedule—whether it’s with
phone calls, alarms, Post-Its or pill holders—or getting ready to start
taking meds in the first place.
NOTE TO ROOKIES Before
starting on meds, adherence is one of the most important issues to
discuss with your doctor. With 28 meds out now and so many
combinations, you can likely find one that you can “adhere” to. But if
your lab tests say “go,” but something in your life says “stop”—you’re
depressed, doing drugs or scared of side effects, for example—your
doctor needs to know. It may take some work before you are ready to
WHAT TO AIM FOR
The percentage of the time that HIVers need to take their meds exactly as prescribed in order for them to work.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR In a recent study, the top four reasons HIVers gave for missing doses were: 1. forgetting 2. changing routine 3. side effects 4. being away from home