What’s that echo in here? Yep, it’s the 99th time somebody’s telling you to take your HIV meds every day exactly as directed.
Easy for them to say — sometimes hard for you to do.
You wake up late for work and before you know it, you’ve forgotten to take your meds. You go to a party, things get a little wild and before you know it, it’s the next morning and you’ve forgotten your meds again. Then there’s taking care of family, helping kids, and going to work.
It’s called life — and it makes it hard to remember to take your HIV medications.
So, how do people get a handle on taking meds every day other than using our awesome app? #shamelessplug #PositivePeersIsCoolThough #RealTalk 😉
Lots of folks use a simple seven-day pillbox — usually a plastic container that has seven compartments. The lid on the top of each compartment has the day of the week printed on it. This helps you make sure you take the exact quantity of each pill on the day when you’re supposed to take it.
How a seven-day pillbox works
Let’s say your HIV treatment is a three-pill cocktail. You count out seven of each pill from its prescription bottle and put one of them in each of the daily compartments.
Then on Sunday you take Sunday’s pills from the pillbox, the next day you take Monday’s, and so on through the end of the week.
This works for anybody who takes a lot of pills. People with heart trouble, high blood pressure and all sorts of conditions take three or four pills a day. The pillboxes give them a plan and structure for staying on their meds.
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What if I have to take pills three times a day?
Sometimes you have to take a pill three times a day, or only in the morning or only at night.
You can get pillboxes that have three or four compartments for each day of the week. Or you can get separate seven-day pillboxes for each time of day to take your meds.
Some pillboxes are round with pie-shaped sections for each day of the week. Get them in different colors for each time of the day when you need to take your meds (green in the morning, yellow in evening, and so on).
Some pharmacies even offer creative solutions, such as pill pouches that fit in your pocket, to help you track and remember to take your pills. Talk to your pharmacist and/or look around at other pharmacies to find an option that works best for you (and for your insurance!).
Or you can create your own pillboxes — perhaps out of a tin for mints or small containers that act as keychains. You may have to figure out how to put dividers in for each day of the week — but once you master that challenge, you’ll have time and effort invested in the boxes that will reinforce the importance of taking your meds every day.
Another possibility: Convert a small fishing tacklebox into a pillbox.
Need more ideas? Check out this Pinterest page crammed with examples for pillbox organizers.
Why pillboxes help you remember to take HIV meds
Researchers have done studies which found that giving people pillboxes to organize their medications made them more likely to take their meds as prescribed.
It’s not the pillbox that makes the difference here. It’s the act of you taking your pills out of the prescription bottles and putting into the daily compartments in the pillbox.
Going to all that trouble reinforces the need to take your pills. But you need more than reinforcement. You need a payoff for that says “yeah, that was totally worth the effort.”
And guess what: Having the exact number of pills ready and waiting for you every day when they need to be taken is exactly the payoff you’re looking for.
So, get yourself a pillbox right away. They’re not too expensive, but if you’re low on cash, think about ways to make your own, or ask your doctor or social worker if they can give you a free sample. The possibilities are endless! Whatever you choose, make it yours 🙂