Support from your clinic

If you understand why you are taking HIV treatment and why it is important to do this correctly, then you’re more likely to take your treatments properly.

When you are first prescribed anti-HIV drugs, your doctor should explain when and how to take them. You should also be given written information to take away and read. This should help you to remember what the doctor told you.

You should also be told what side-effects to expect. Most HIV drugs cause unwanted side-effects, but on the whole these tend to be mild and go away over time. Knowing what to expect might make the side-effects easier to plan for and cope with. This should mean that you are more likely to think that they are worth getting through and so continue to take your medication.

In summary, when you first begin or, if you need to, change treatments you should understand:

  • Why you have been given these drugs.
  • How often you need to take them.
  • If there are any dietary restrictions.
  • If there are any side-effects and how to manage them (and when to seek urgent medical advice).
  • Where you can get help and advice (including during normal working hours and at the evenings and weekends. Many hospitals have a 24-hour pharmacy support line).

Taking HIV medication is likely to be a life-long commitment, and you may find that you need different levels of support to take your treatment at different times. So try and make sure that you tell a doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you are having problems with taking your treatment. They shouldn’t judge you and will almost certainly be able to help.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.