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Imperfect HIV Drug Use Raises Resistance Risk

Failure to Take Medications as Directed Could Quadruple Drug Resistance Risk

Helping HIV Patients Take Their Medications continued...

But researchers say the number of pills required for HAART is now as low as two or three pills once a day and is predicted to drop to one pill per day within the next year.

In the meantime, a team effort is required to help HIV patients stick to their drug schedule, according to Kathleen Squires, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, who also attended the briefing.

That team approach often includes:

  • Assigning a case manager who sits down with the patient and helps them visualize how they will fit taking HAART into their lifestyle.
  • Offering directly observed therapy in which a health care worker goes to the patient's home to deliver treatment, or the patient comes to the clinic to get medication.
  • Group or individual counseling at a variety of locations, including clinics, community organizations, or the patient's home.

Bartlett says researchers also have to keep ahead of drug resistance by developing new drugs that are active against new targets or those strains of HIV that are currently resistant. But finding ways to help people with HIV reap the biggest benefits of HAART remains a major hurdle in HIV treatment.

"We have to figure out better ways to help patients to remember to take medications as prescribed," says Bartlett.

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