Tips on Taking

Taking these medications is often a challenge for many people. We have learned many tricks from our patients and from other providers on helping people take and tolerate their medications. We have developed some information sheets to help PLWH/A become more active in managing side effects and hints on remembering to take medications. IN addition, many websites and HIV-related publications also contain helpful suggestions for improving success with these challenging treatments.


Linking pill taking to routine everyday activities can make remembering pills a bit easier. For example, teeth brushing, taking the dog out, getting the kids out to school. For each person, these reminders or cues will be different. Just be careful on weekends or vacation when these routines may be changed, and a back-up may be needed for those days.

For example, if your need to take yours meds with food, it is important to try to find regular times during the day when you are eating and take the medications around this time. For most medications, this means having something to eat in the morning and then at dinner time or later depending on the time requirements. If you are taking a medication which requires an empty stomach try either taking it as soon as you get up, and then showering and getting ready so that an hour can go by before you eat breakfast. This is easier especially if you are someone who likes to snack before going to bed! The other option is to take when brushing teeth for the night if it has been about 2 hours since eating. Using visual cues can also be helpful, such as a TV show, a special magnet on the refrigerator, or a sticker in the bathroom. These can be non-HIV-related, but serve as reminders about medications.

Side Effects

Many medications can cause nausea. Sometimes even those which do not require food may be better tolerated with a snack. Try taking those medications with some food to see if the upset stomach gets better. Carrying around some plain crackers or other snacks may also help the nausea in the middle of the day. If the nausea is too much, does not go away, or is accompanied by pain, your should call your provider.

There are many other helpful hints which are available to help patients remember and tolerate HIV medications. Patients should always be encouraged to talk to their provider about problems they may be having and use them and other resources such as other websites, peers, support groups and publications to help.


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