Adherence to ART, antiretroviral therapy is paramount to the success of HIV treatment. The key to Mara's and mine's long survival path is exactly this:
ART Adherence, Antiretroviral Therapy
- Taking the medicine as prescribed is essential for the treatment to work. You should try to take your pills at about the same time each day. This page includes advice on how to deal with missed doses. It is also important to follow the food instructions and check for drug interactions.
Taking your medications as prescribed is often called 'accession'. Adherence to your HIV treatment means:
- Take all the medicines that make up your HIV treatment combination in the right amounts.
- Take your medications at the right time, as close to the same time each day as possible. This usually means taking the medicine within a two hour window (up to one hour on both sides of the set time).
- Following all instructions on food. Some medicines need to be taken with food. to be properly absorbed, but others need to be taken on an empty stomach.
- Checking interactions with other medications or drugs. These include doctor-prescribed drugs, over-the-counter products, herbal and alternative medicines, and recreational drugs.
Does it matter if I miss a few doses of my HIV treatment?
You should take your pills at the same time each day so that it becomes a habit.
If you are used to taking all or most of your antiretrovirals at the right time and in the right way, you are in a much better position if you have a problem such as skipping a dose, spending a night without medication, or running without pills. If you have missed a significant number of doses and something like this happens, things are more likely to go wrong.
In the studies, missing doses were associated with an increase in viral load, a decrease in CD4 cell count and an increased risk of resistance. The best results from HIV treatment are seen in people who take all or almost all of their medication properly.
What should I do if I miss a dose of my HIV treatment?
Although you should try to take all doses of your medicine as prescribed, most people who are being treated for HIV occasionally forget to take or delay it.
What you should do about a missed dose will depend on the circumstances. In most cases, the safest option is to take the missed dose as soon as you notice and return to your normal schedule. If you only realize that you missed a dose while taking the next dose, take the normal dose. Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
If you miss a dose and are unsure what to do, it is a good idea to call your clinic for advice.
If you vomit (are ill) after treatment with HIV, you usually do not need to take another dose as the medicines will have already been absorbed into your body. Exceptions to this are if it's been less than two hours since you took your anti-HIV medications (or less than four hours if you're taking Eviplera or rilpivirine), or if you see the pills, or parts of them, in vomiting.
If you are regularly dropping your doses or taking them late, discuss this with your doctor or other staff at your clinic. Your clinic may offer advice and support. In some cases, it may make sense to change your treatment to a lower-risk drug combination.