The pharmacists working in the HIV clinic are specialist pharmacists whose role is to ensure that patients take their HIV treatment safely and effectively. The HIV pharmacists work for both the adult and paediatric services and include prescribing pharmacists within the team.
Modern HIV treatment means that people with HIV can have a normal life expectancy and quality of life. Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment is usually easy to take and well tolerated. That said the success of ARV treatment depends on the individual taking their tablets reliably without missing any doses and at a regular time. This is known as ‘adherence’ and ensures that the medication remains effective. The pharmacy team are here to help patients with adherence to their ARVs to ensure successful treatment.
Before an individual starts therapy they will attend a pharmacist-led ‘Start’ clinic which aims to educate the patient about ARV treatment and adherence. Together with the patient the different treatment options will be considered in relation to their blood results, lifestyle, diet and any other relevant factors which will affect choice of therapy. The session aims to give the patient an opportunity to be involved in the decision making process as well as address any concerns which they have regarding starting treatment.
For patient’s already taking ARV treatment the HIV pharmacists are available to offer advice regarding their current therapy. There are many important drug interactions between ARV’s and other medications whether they are prescribed by the patient’s GP, bought from a chemist or even herbal products. The pharmacists will be able to advise whether or not another medication is safe to take with their ARV treatment.
The pharmacists can offer continuing adherence support to patients whether it be practical considerations of taking tablets or helping with motivation to take medication long term.