Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a combination of medications that treat HIV. The drugs do not kill the virus, but when taken in combination they can slow the progression of HIV. Antiretroviral drugs are referred to as ARV. Huge reductions in rates of death and suffering have been seen when use is made of a potent ARV regimen, particularly in early stages of the disease.
ART is complex and so medication errors and drug-drug interactions (DDIs) are common, especially when the drugs are prescribed by someone who is not an expert. Patients with HIV require additional attention when admitted to hospital because their antiretroviral regimens can be complicated. Medication errors have occurred when admission or discharge meds are prescribed by someone who is not an infectious disease specialist. In addition, surgical stress can affect drug absorption, metabolism, and excretion, which can in turn require changes in medication doses.
In one study of hospitalized patients with HIV, potential drug-drug interactions were observed in 58% of 200 patients, with 22 (9%) potential DDIs occurring with medication that was not previously recorded in the patients’ notes. Physicians sent 103 responses and 61.2% reported that the pharmacist consultation provided information they did not know, and pharmacist consultants led to change in management in 13.6% of cases.
With the growing number of antiretrovirals and increasing complexity of therapy, the pharmacist has an important role in optimizing care. Our HIV pharmacist can review your prescription for accuracy, and your medication history for potential drug-drug interactions (like with statin drugs) to promptly make changes and prevent potential problems.
RxUnlimited has been a provider of pharmacy services for people living with HIV/AIDS since 1994. Our mission is to help people living with HIV/AIDS or any other chronic illness to optimize their quality of life and maximize their health benefits. For more information, please call 877-877-DRUG (3784).
Int J STD AIDS. 2013 Mar;24(3):237-41.