Tak­ing your med­i­ca­tion at the same time is key to sup­press­ing the virus

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Cle­ment Fana Ntuli

AN in­te­gral part of ad­her­ence is en­sur­ing that you take your pills on time. We know that the ef­fec­tive­ness of ARVs is based ei­ther on the 12 or 24-hour pe­riod, depend­ing on the type of med­i­ca­tion you are tak­ing. For those who are still tak­ing the three-pills-com­bi­na­tion, they take their med­i­ca­tion in the morn­ing and even­ing, giv­ing a 12-hour in­ter­val. On the other hand, those tak­ing one pill (Fixed-Dosed-Com­bi­na­tion) have to take it every 24 hours.


We all know that some coun­tries have dif­fer­ent time zones. Over­seas trav­ellers have a first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of this. This poses a chal­lenge since the dif­fer­ent time zones may con­fuse one in terms of tak­ing pills. An ex­am­ple is, let’s say you are tak­ing your pills at 8pm then you also take a flight over­seas.

Ob­vi­ously, when it’s 8pm where you will be, it will be a dif­fer­ent time back in South Africa. It is im­por­tant to have a sep­a­rate watch to give you the time back in South Africa. This may mean a slight shift from the time of the day so you will find your­self tak­ing your pills in the af­ter­noon or deep in the night. The trick is en­sur­ing that you ad­here to the 12 or 24-hour lapse be­tween the last time you took the last one and the next one.


Other peo­ple, who face chal­lenges with their in­take of med­i­ca­tions, are those who work dif­fer­ent shifts – ei­ther at night or dur­ing the day. This cre­ates an im­pres­sion of hav­ing to ad­just the med­i­ca­tion in­take ac­cord­ing to their shifts. The rea­son be­ing that some say that once they have taken pills, they feel sleepy and tired.

Con­se­quently, when they are on night shift they take their even­ing med­i­ca­tion in the morn­ing. This is wrong. Chang­ing the times of your med­i­ca­tion al­lows the virus to de­velop re­sis­tance as it gains strength. Once you fa­mil­iarise your­self with tak­ing your pills at the same time, even the tired­ness and drowsi­ness will stop.


It must be un­der­stood that you need to take your med­i­ca­tion at the same time to en­sure ef­fec­tive­ness. If you take your pills ear­lier than you are sup­posed to, it means that there are ac­cess drugs in your body which is equiv­a­lent to over­dos­ing. If you take them slightly later, you open a gap for the virus to gain strength since it will not be ef­fec­tively sup­pressed dur­ing that time. There­fore, whether you have to jug­gle time zones or work shifts, en­sure that the time of tak­ing your med­i­ca­tion is not af­fected.

While time zones and work shifts may cre­ate a bit of a chal­lenge for you, al­ways ad­here to the ex­act time be­tween your in­take and next dose.


Cle­ment Fana Ntuli is a mo­ti­va­tional speaker and au­thor of the book Turn­ing Tri­als Into Tri­umph. Do you have any HIV-re­lated ques­tions? Email your ques­tion to Cle­ment at clem­n­tuli@ya­

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