Sexual Health news - HIV

Pharmacists can help HIV patients comply with treatment

HIV-positive individuals can significantly improve their quality of life by adhering to a physician-prescribed medication regimen. For many, day-to-day compliance can be one of the most difficult tasks, but must be maintained for the best possible outcome of care. A new study published in the journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs looked at how local pharmacies could help patients affected with the virus efficiently manage their treatment.

Currently, the primary treatment course for affected individuals is antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, which slows the replication process of the virus and prevents further weakening of the immune system, AVERT reports. In most cases, a physician will prescribe two or more ARVs to be taken at the same time to prevent the patient from becoming resistant to the medications.

Researchers from University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy collaborated with Walgreens to see if pharmacies specializing in HIV medications increase the likelihood of compliance over the course of a year. They followed patients in nine different cities in the U.S., some of whom went to specialized centers for their prescriptions, while others went to traditional pharmacies.

The results of the study revealed that patients who used HIV-specialized pharmacies were more consistent when it came to following their prescribed treatments, when compared to individuals who went to non-specific ones. This suggests that the more focused centers may play an important role in treatment compliance.

"While antiretroviral treatments have dramatically increased the health and life expectancy of people infected with HIV, and helped to slow HIV transmission, these medications only work if taken on a regular basis," said Jeffrey Laurence, M.D., director of the laboratory for AIDS virus research at Cornell University. "Enlisting pharmacies in a multi-pronged approach to maintaining patient adherence is critical."