Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The Importance of Medication Adherence to People Living with HIV/AIDS:
When you take a drug, it gets processed by your body and enters into your blood stream. The HIV drugs need to stay in your blood at certain levels to fight HIV. If the level falls too low, the drugs cannot work well.
When you take your pills on schedule, you keep the right level of the drug in your body. By not taking your medicines on schedule, you risk letting drug levels drop. This may allow HIV to make copies of itself and even make changes (mutations). These mutations can help the virus survive, even when you do take your HIV medication. This is called resistance.
When HIV becomes resistant to a drug you are taking, that drug will probably stop working. This may lead to an increase in your viral load and a decrease in your CD4 cell count. At that point, you will probably have to switch to another HIV drug.
Resistance to one drug can sometimes cause resistance to other drugs you have not taken. (This is called cross-resistance.) Resistance can affect your treatment choices in the future because fewer drugs will work well against your virus.
The best way to prevent resistance is to stick closely to your medication schedule. Some studies suggest that 95 percent adherence may be needed to get the most benefit from HIV treatment. That means missing very few doses.
[from the Well Project: http://www.thewellproject.org/en_US/Treatment_and_Trials/Things_to_Consider/Women_and_Adherence.jsp ]