And that is great and applauded news.
Since being diagnosed with HIV in 2012, I have constantly had the word adherence shoved in my face from nearly everyone.
I saw it in ads. Heard it from doctors and case managers and pharmacists. My mom and family talked about it. Government. Pharma. Everybody! Even people that didn’t know me spoke about the ability to live a long life by taking my HIV meds—daily.
“Never miss a dose,” they would say.
But newsflash, in case you didn’t know, I am not Mr. Perfect. I’ve missed doses in the past.
Hell, I just literally remembered that I need to take my pills today even. (I just paused writing to take my regimen.)
Adherence for me has never come easily. I have missed more doses than I even want to tell you about, let alone think about. But my instinct tells me that I am not alone. My instinct tells me that many people living with HIV struggle with the simple, yet hard to always do, act of taking our HIV medication as prescribed.
Maybe for me it’s just because I can’t always remember to take them, or I forget that I forgot to do it. But for others, it may be an issue because of access to drugs, financial barriers, side effect profiles, adverse events, doctor issues, pharmacy issues or just that life happens and things make it impossible.
Luckily, there may be some solutions in the not so far away future.
Over the past year, quality data from studies and pilot studies are offering some potential evidence that could change the way that we take our HIV meds and could literally challenge the old definition of adherence altogether.
Full disclosure, I am not a doctor or researcher and I am providing my own analysis of some options in the pipeline that I think are exciting. Before attempting any of these methods, you should speak with a sincere and qualified medical professional.
First—the actual drugs in the regimen. What would happen if HIV meds only required one or two drugs? Would we see a lowering of the cost and burden of taking more than one pill a day?
Second—long acting injectables. In a recent study, patients could tolerate an only once every three months shot the same as a bi-monthly or monthly shot. Imagine going to the doctor only once per month, getting a shot, and not thinking about it again until your next appointment.
And finally, what if the pills we take actually lasted longer?
When these solutions come to market in the near future, would less pills mean lower costs? Would it mean better access? A higher degree of adherence and a lesser need for as many office visits or follow ups?
What if PrEP had a long acting injectable option? The pipeline for treatment is rich in options.
If you are like me—and struggle with adherence, share this post. Own it. Then let’s both fix it!