HIV antiretroviral medications have transformed the disease from a near certain death to a chronic treatable illness.
However, research by WHP staff and others have demonstrated that taking HIV medications as faithfully as necessary is extremely difficult for most patients. There are many reasons why patients struggle with their medication, which include side effects, pill burden, and the stigma of taking HIV medicine in front of family and friends who may not know their status.
WHP is a leading innovator in the development of tools and strategies to help patients successfully adhere to their antiretroviral medications. Our pharmacist, Jennifer Cocohoba, PharmD, [link to her photo]is a national leader in developing tools and interventions to improve HIV adherence to medications. She has been the lead author in multiple peer reviewed studies that have identified methods to counsel women on improving their ability to take medications. The methods include: telephone reminder calls and beepers to help patients remember to take medications in addition to helping patients choose specific antiretroviral medications that may be easier to tolerate.
Our clinic director, Dr. Edward Machtinger, has also published a number of studies on methods of improving medication adherence. He is the lead author of the chapter on medication adherence in the most read HIV textbook. His studies include a randomized control trial using pictures of medications printed on a daily calendar as a reminder tool to help patients more faithfully take their medications. This study demonstrated that a picture based reminder tool is highly effective in improving poor medication adherence.