Taking HIV Medication
Taking HIV Medication
Brett Grodeck (Author, The First Year - HIV) gives expert video advice on: Can I take HIV medication with alcohol or other drugs?; Should I tell my doctor if I skip my medicine? and more...
What is a routine I can use in order to stay adherent?
My routine for taking HIV medicine is really very simple. Every two to three weeks I get out my medicines and I put them into a pill container that's categorized by days per week. I plunk them into a three week supply and I keep them with me. I keep another stash in my car hidden. I keep a stash in my office at work hidden. Thus, wherever I am I have access to my HIV medicine. Every day that I take it, I can see, for example, Monday I took it. I know if I get up on Wednesday morning and Tuesday night I hadn't taken it, I take it first thing on Wednesday morning. By just putting the HIV medicine in pill containers you can actually see how many times that you've taken in through the week. If there's a couple of days that you forgot, you can see it right there. It's a really great tip for people who are just new to taking HIV medication.
Will I feel ill every time I start a new HIV medication?
Its important to know about HIV treatment, there is first line - that's the very first set of drugs that you take, there's second line, there's third line and there's salvage therapy. You start with the very best HIV medication and the more adherent you are, and the more that you track your health, the more likely you are to have success with this medication. So, the ideal situation is to stay on first line treatment for as long as possible. Every time you fail a drug, the primary way is not to be adherent, you resort to drugs that have more and more side effects. So every time you get on a new medication regime, it becomes more and more difficult to take and you are potentially dealing with more side effects.
Can I take HIV medication with alcohol or other drugs?
The mix of HIV medicine and drugs really depends upon the drug. Drug abuse in general doesn't necessarily lead to a healthier lifestyle where you're going to be in a position to remember to take your pills or do healthy things in your life. Certainly, there are some drugs that have a direct interaction with HIV medicines. For example, there's a drug called Ritonavir that, when mixed with the party drug called Ecstasy, causes the blood levels of Ritonavir to rise to dangerous levels. So, it's important, if you're taking something called Ritonavir, to be aware of everything that you put in your body. Most HIV drugs, however, have few side effects with other drugs. So yes, it's safe in most cases, but is taking drugs and alcohol the best way to perpetuate long term health? It never has been in the past and is not a way to health or happiness.
Should I tell my doctor if I skip my medicine?
I think so. Yes. The reason for that is if you find yourself skipping your medicine, forgetting to take it, then perhaps you're not on the best medicine. So I think you should talk to your doctor because your doctor may be able to put you on a better medicine, one that is more compatible with your own habits. By not telling your doctor that you missed your medicine, you're doing yourself a disservice by not being honest, and if problems were to develop such as the drug would begin to fail, the doctor could access the real reason why the drug may be failing, not because the drug is not working for you, but because you're just not taking it.
What if my doctor puts me on a very difficult HIV regimen?
If you are diagnosed with HIV, one of the best things to do before actually starting HIV treament is to get a second opinion. The first-line treatment for people with HIV is very important. Your first shot with HIV medicine is your best shot for it to last a lifetime. So you want the very best choices to be made early on. It's important to get a second opinion either from another doctor or from people who are knowledgable about HIV treatment, because not all doctors are clued-up as to the latest developments in HIV treatment. So, by asking more people what the latest advances are, you are ensuring that you are getting access to the best medication available today.