Treatment training manual

3.16 Tips to help adherence

Before starting ART, get all the information on what you will need to.

  • How many tablets? How big are they?
  • How often do you need to take them?
  • How exact do you have to be with timing?
  • Are there food or storage restrictions?
  • Can they be taken with any other medicines you need?
  • Are there alternative choices?

Use a daily chart to plan your timetable and use it to get used to the routine. For the first few weeks, mark off each dose and the time that you took it.

  • Make sure that you contact your hospital or clinic if you have difficulties with side effects. The clinic can prescribe additional medicines to help, or change the treatment.
  • Use a weekly pill box to count out your meds. Then you can always check if you think you have missed a dose. This is easy for once-daily ART but larger pill boxes are available if you need to take more than one dose each day.
  • Use a pill beeper or alarm watch for all doses.
  • Take extra meds if you go away for a few days.
  • Keep a small supply where you may need them in an emergency. This can be in a cool place in your car, at work or at a friend’s house.
  • Ask friends to help you remember difficult dose times. Ask them to remind you when you are out at night.
  • Ask friends who are already on ART what they do. Ask how well they are managing. Ask your treatment centres if you can talk to someone who is already taking the same treatment if you think this will help.
  • Before you start ART, ask your doctor for a supply of medications to control nausea and diarrhoea. These side effects are the most common when starting therapy.
  • Most combinations are once-daily. This means taking them every 24 hours. Some drugs need to be taken twice a day. This means taking them every 12 hours.
  • Completely missing a once-daily dose may be more serious than forgetting a dose from a twice-daily combination, because there is a longer period when your drug levels are too low. Adherence is especially important with once-daily combinations.

Adherence diary from the i-Base Introduction to ART.

Last updated: 1 January 2023.