Three different studies of the prevention effectiveness of viral suppression to reduce the risk for sexual HIV transmission have shown similar results: across thousands of couples with different HIV statuses and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or PrEP, no HIV transmissions were observed when the HIV-positive partner was virally suppressed as the result of antiretroviral treatment. This means that getting and staying virally suppressed is not only the best thing people living with HIV can do to maintain their health, but also one of the best ways to prevent new infections through sex. This page will be updated soon to reflect this.
What Are Some Tips to Help Me Take My Medications Every Day?
Some tips that may help you take your HIV medications every day are:
- Take your medicine at the same time each day.
- Match your medicine schedule to your life. Add taking your medicines to things you already do each day, like brushing your teeth or eating a meal.
- Try a weekly or monthly pill tray with compartments for each day of the week to help you remember whether or not you took your medicine that day.
- Set an alarm on your clock, watch, or phone for the time you take your medicines.
- Use a calendar to check off the days you have taken your medicines.
- Download a free app from the Internet to your computer or on your smartphone that can help remind you when it’s time to take your medicines. Search for “reminder apps,” and you will find many choices.
- Ask a family member or friend to help you remember to take your medicine.
What Are Some Challenges I Might Expect to Taking My Medications Every Day?
Taking medications every day can be difficult. That is why it is important to understand some of the challenges you may face and to think through how you might address them before they happen. For example, remembering when to take your medicines can be complicated. Some medication regimens involve taking several pills every day—with or without food—or before or after other medications. Making a schedule of when and how to take your medicines can be helpful. Or ask your health care provider about the availability of multiple drugs combined into one pill.
Other factors can make it difficult to take your HIV medications every day, including:
- Problems taking medications, such as trouble swallowing pills, can make staying on treatment challenging. Your health care provider can offer tips and ideas for addressing these problems.
- Side effects from medications, for example, nausea or diarrhea, can make a person not want to take them. Talk to your health care provider. There are medicines or other support, like nutritional counseling to make sure you are getting important nutrients, which can help with the most common side effects. But don’t give up. Work with your health care provider to find a treatment that works for you.
- A busy schedule. Work or travel away from home can make it easy to forget to take pills. Planning ahead can help. Or, it may be possible to keep extra medicines at work or in your car for the times that you forget to take them at home. But make sure you talk to your health care provider—some medications are affected by extreme temperatures, and it is not always possible to keep medications at work.
- Being sick or depressed. How you feel mentally and physically can affect your willingness to stick to your HIV medications. Again, your health care provider is an important source of information to help with your mental health needs.
- Alcohol or drug use. If substance use is interfering with your ability to keep yourself healthy, it may be time to seek help to quit or better manage it.
- Treatment fatigue. Some people find that taking their HIV medications becomes harder over time. Every time you see your health care provider, make it a point to talk about staying adherent to your medications.
Your health care provider will help you identify barriers to keeping up with your HIV medication regimen and ways to address those barriers. Understanding issues that can make keeping up with your HIV medication regimen difficult will help you and your health care provider select the best treatment for you.
Tell your health care provider right away if you’re having taking your HIV medication every day. Together you can identify the reasons why you’re skipping medications and make a plan to address those reasons. Joining a support group, or enlisting the support of family and friends, can also help you.