Adherence is essential in treatment for this virus. We often hear that adherence refers to taking the drugs every day, however it is much more than that; adherence includes three components.
1. Correct medication: the right dose at the right time.
2. Responsibility for regular checkups: medical and laboratory appointments as well as following your doctor’s instructions and recommendations.
3. Self-care: healthy diet, exercise, responsible sexuality, emotional health, and avoiding alcohol or drug use.
Just like a table missing a leg, if adherence fails to include these three components, it will falter and the results might have a negative impact on your health.
Maintaining adequate adherence means integrating as part of our lives, the fact that we are living with HIV and that these three components will from now on be part of our daily life, with the awareness that every change and every action in favor of our health will result in a better quality of life.
But, why is adherence so difficult? For anyone who has not taken regular medication before, it is difficult to maintain a schedule since in some antiretroviral regimens several doses should be taken at different times.
We also know that medications often cause discomfort or have side effects during the first weeks of treatment. These symptoms will vary, they may appear or not, depending on the individual’s body. However, in many cases it can cause a person to suspend or stop the treatment.
It is important to know that side effects are part of the process of the body’s adaptation to the treatment. We do not know if they will occur or not until the person is taking the medicine and we can observe how he or she responds to the treatment.
For this reason, it is important at this stage to maintain close communication with the doctor, since although the side effects will disappear as days go by, there are options that the doctor can offer you to manage any discomfort better.