Keep a Stash of Meds
Do you find yourself missing doses or running out of your meds? Here are some tips for managing your supply and staying on your schedule.
Stable access to drugs is critical for their effective use. People cannot stay on a regimen if they don’t have constant access to their drugs.
While it may sound obvious, many people taking HIV meds some times find themselves running short of one or another drug for a variety of reasons. This is often because of poor planning. Skipping doses because you’ve run out of a drug is still skipping doses.
Some drugs have different storage requirements than others, so your planning must also address these storage needs. This is primarily true of Norvir (ritonavir) and Kaletra (lopinavir + ritonavir), which require refrigeration for storage over one or two months respectively.
Once storage is addressed, it’s helpful to put a full week’s supply aside in an accessible place right after getting your drugs, and then start using the rest of that supply. This creates an emergency stash should unforeseen circumstances cause your basic supply to run short. Your stash should be rotated or replaced once a month to keep it fresh.
Some people use a small container attached to their key chains for a daily backup.
Keeping a steady supply of meds requires you to work closely with your doctor and pharmacist. And, when using AIDS Drug Assistance Programs or pharmaceutical company patient assistance programs, even more of the burden falls on you to make sure you order supplies as the program requires that you have a safety net for unforeseen situations.
The main point is to always stay at least a week ahead of your needs.
People differ in their abilities to adhere to their regimens and this is influenced by lifestyle and other factors. People dealing with major life problems like active drug use or homelessness face difficult challenges with adherence. But that doesn’t mean adherence is impossible.
People with depression are also more likely to have difficulty with adherence. If you suffer from depression or mental illness and are considering treatment, consult a mental health expert as well as your regular doctor.
In reality, only you can decide whether you’re ready and committed enough to maintain a steady course of treatment. If you are not ready or not in a position to make a serious effort at adherence, you may be better off delaying treatment. This doesn’t jeopardize your ability to use effective treatment later. In contrast, misusing your drugs can jeopardize your future options by encouraging drug resistance. This can affect entire classes of HIV therapy and render them unsuitable for your use.
Adapted from www.projectinform.org.