Expert advises strict adherence to HIV medication for healthy well-being

Mr Idowu Orogbemi, the Clinical Director, AIDS Health Care Foundation, an NGO, on Tuesday, advised persons living with HIV to adhere strictly to their HIV medication to live healthily.

He gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, saying that Anti-Retroviral (ARV) medications were used to increase the health and well-being of people living with HIV.

He added that the National Guideline for HIV prevention, treatment and care recommends ARV treatment for all people living with HIV and AIDS.

He explained that HIV medication adherence means taking ARV drugs exactly as prescribed by healthcare personnel.

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“This includes taking the medication at the right time to ensure that the concentration of drug in the body does not drop below the minimum needed to fight HIV daily.

“Drug concentration ideally should be above the minimum for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

“Every time the drug concentration falls below the minimum level, there is a risk that HIV will develop resistance to the drugs.

“However, getting a good routine will help, as ARV involves daily schedule and one may need support to get used to the changes it makes in one’s life.”

Orogbemi added that adherence may be difficult but not impossible.

He said that treatment and prevention in HIV were important as it involved prescribing ARVs to those living with the condition to reduce the amount of virus in their blood to an undetectable level.

This, he said, could effectively reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.

He added that “an undetectable viral load is defined as less than 200 copies of HIV in the blood, at this stage, the load is low and does not show in a standard laboratory test.

“When an HIV positive person takes ARV daily as prescribed, he or she is likely to achieve viral suppression which leads to undetectable viral load usually within six months after starting treatment.

“This, in turn, reduces the risk of transmission of the virus to an HIV negative person, thus underscores the reality that undetectable equals un-transmittable.

“This follows high adherence to ARV medication, a regular medical appointment to monitor viral load and to receive adherence support if needed.”

The director added that the success of treatment as prevention for persons living with HIV and AIDS was highly dependent on their adherence to medication.