Tips on managing your HIV medication

Side effects

Like all treatments, HIV medicines can have side effects and you may find that you’re experiencing some. Most of these can be managed with the help of your healthcare team.

However, your healthcare team won’t know you’re experiencing problems with your HIV medication unless you tell them. It’s important that you feel confident talking to your doctor, and other members of your healthcare team, about your HIV medication - and are able to be open with them if you think you’re experiencing any side effects. They are there to support you with more than just choosing the right medication for your HIV.

Side effects aren’t something you have to just accept. It’s a good idea to note them down so that you don’t forget. What happened, and when? How soon after you took your HIV medication did you notice the symptoms, and how severe were they? Did they clear up by themselves?

You can then bring your notes to your next appointment to discuss them with your doctor or healthcare team.

Why not use Unity - an interactive tool to help get you started?

Life effects

HIV medication should be taken exactly as it’s prescribed. If you regularly skip or accidentally miss doses, or stop taking your medication completely, it could make your HIV resistant to the medicines you’re taking, and much harder to treat in future. That’s why it’s so important to stick to your treatment in order to control your HIV properly.

It’s important to take your HIV medication on time, and you’ll need to schedule this into your daily routine. Your HIV medicines may be affecting you in ways that may not be obvious to you. Do you miss important events? Or do you change the time of day when you eat because of your HIV medicines?

Always talk to your healthcare team if you are struggling to take your HIV medication on time, often miss doses, or have stopped taking your medication altogether.

Always talk to your healthcare team if you are struggling to take your HIV medication on time, often skip or miss doses, or have stopped taking your medication altogether.

Your relationship with your doctor or other healthcare provider

Your healthcare team is there to support you. It’s important you feel comfortable and confident talking to doctors, nurses and other members of the team, and can be open about any concerns you have about your HIV and well-being in general.

Reasons given by PLHIVs for not feeling comfortable raising issues with their main healthcare professional:1

None (“I always feel comfortable”)                                          (51%)
“I feel my main healthcare provider knows best”                    (12%)
“I don’t want to take up more of their time”                             (11%)
“I don’t believe they can do much about my concerns”        (10%)
“I’m not sure how to bring it up”                                                (9%)
“I don’t feel it is important enough to bother them”                 (9%)
“There never seems to be the time or opportunity to do so”    (9%)
“I don’t feel confident enough”                                                  (8%)

Do you recognise any of these?

The statistics above come from the Positive Perspectives survey, an international survey conducted by ViiV Healthcare in collaboration with HIV physicians, PLHIV, and patient group representatives. The Positive Perspectives survey was carried out to better understand the changing needs and challenges faced by PLHIV and their partners. The survey was also central to learning how HIV continues to affect people’s lives.  Responses were gathered from 1,111 PLHIV aged 18 years or older.1,2

Download the Positive Perspectives Survey to find out more

  1. Data on file, ViiV Healthcare The Positive Perspectives Survey Report: a view into the lives of people living with HIV. Key findings. VIIV/OTH/0067/17. November 2017. Available upon request.
  2. ViiV Healthcare. The Positive Perspectives Survey Report. A view into the lives of people living with HIV. Available at: www.viivhealthcare.com/en-gb/hiv-treatment-and-care/the-positive-perspectives-survey (accessed 20 May 2019).
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