At ASC, we help people understand how important it is to go to the doctor, stick to your meds, and take care of yourself. We provide information on how to handle side effects, talk to your doctor, understand your medical results, and find a medical plan that works for you. Once that happens, it's a whole new ballgame.
When I go into the community to provide treatment education and adherence support, I tell my own story. I was homeless, and my drug use put me to a point where I was someone I didn't even know. I've been there and back.
I let people know I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. I've seen for myself that taking your medications regularly can help T-cells go up and viral load go down. I help people understand how important it is not to be afraid of HIV medications. I tell them about ASC's workshops, counseling, and support groups. And I talk about my own efforts to adhere to my medications.
Before I started as an ASC Peer, I was 90% adherent to my meds. But working in treatment adherence, I feel I have to practice what I preach, so I'm now 100% adherent. I carry my medications when I leave the house so if I forget to take them in the morning, I can take them at work. I use an alarm clock at night to remind me about my evening dose. I'm the example that shows other people it can be done.