Q and A


How to I manage meds with shift work?

Hi. I started meds (ARVs) not long ago. I take it every night at 20:00.

The problem is that I’m working as a security officer in South Africa. I work 3 days, 3 nights and I go off 3 days. My problem is time balancing since the meds are making me feel dizzy.

Last night was my first night at work since I started meds. So I forgot to take meds with me to work, remembered that I was suppose to take it at 20:00, then I discovered that I forgot it. I knocked off duty in the morning and went home. I made sure that before I sleep as I’m coming from night shift I take my meds at 08:00.

Did I do a right thing, if not what should I do?



Thanks for your question which affects a lot of people.

Although you didn’t say the name of your meds, the side effects and timing make this sound like efavirenz.

One of the most widely use single-pill combinations is based on efavirenz, usually with tenofovir DF and emtricitabine in the same pill. The first brand name was called Atripla but there are lots of generic versions.

In the UK, someone working with frequent shift changed would use a different HIV combination. So one thing is to please speak to your doctor to see if there is a choice. Explain how difficult this is to work shifts and say you need a different medicine.

Depending on where your clinic is in South Africa, this might be easy or difficult. Even if it is difficult now (ie to change to a protease inhibitor), in the near future, a combination that is based on a drug called dolutegravir will be easier to use. This is because this will be a similar price to efavirenz and health systems will make this easier to get.

In practice, you did the right thing in taking your meds once you got home,

If your viral load is undetectable now, then you can have a little flexibility with your dose. This is because all three meds stay in your body for longer than 24 hours.

For now, until you can see your doctor, change your dosing to always taking your meds before you sleep. When you alternate shifts, it will be okay to take the meds either earlier or later than 24 hours since the previous dose.

Because of side effects, it will probably be better to extend the time between the new shift dose rather than bringing it forward earlier. This will be much better than trying to work when you are getting side effects form taking an evening dose when working a night shift.

Better if you could change to an easier combination though.


  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Mukesh,

    Are you having problems with work shifts because of side effects with your HIV meds?

    Please let us know what meds you are taking. Please also tell us your CD4 count and viral load results.

  2. Mukesh

    Aaj kal job sab shift ma ha kya Kara hiv wala job ma problem ha

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Cleo,

    It’s good that you’re starting HIV treatment (ART). That’s because the START study showed that HIV treatment has important benefits for your health, even if your CD4 count is still high.

    However, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your concerns over Atroiza and your shift work. It’s recommended to take Atroiza at bedtime so that any side effects happen when you’re asleep. Here’s a link that shows common side effects of Atroiza. But not everyone gets side effects with their HIV meds.

    Please ask your doctor if there are other meds that will be easier for you to take. Especially if your shift hours change over the week.

    Here’s an Introduction to ART for lots more info about starting treatment.

  4. Cleo

    My dr has proscribed Atroiza for me, still waiting to start my treatment. My concern is m a shift worker m not sure how it will affect me. Coz m suppose to take it at night and m not sure if it will have side effects on me or not. Should i be worried for my job

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Ajeyo,

    It’s up to you when you take your meds, if 4am works for you, then yes take them then.

  6. Ajeyo

    Can i take my hiv medicine early like 4 am in the morning,actually i have some tour work and usually i took my medicine at 11:30 am in morning.my cd4 is 600,and i took these medicine TENOFOVIR+EFAFIRENZ+LAMIVUDINE.

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Chandan,

    The meds that you’re taking are ideally supposed to be taken before you go to bed, Please see the following: http://i-base.info/guides/1561 If you need to take meds during the day due to your life style, if you can you’ll need to change to a combination that doesn’t contain efavirenz.

  8. Chandan

    I want to know one thing from you, i am hiv positive and took medicine EFARIENZ+LAMUDINE+TENOFOVIR, since 21 may 2019,i take these medicine in waking hours… After I took these medicine I felt drowsiness+ confusion.. Is these symptoms is temporarily or permanent.

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Toh,

    Please see the advise in the above post.

  10. Toh

    Hi I’m taking odumine every 20:00 the problem I work night shift and I fell sleepy after I take it what must I do


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