When it is decided that the patient receives antiretroviral therapy, it is important that the patient be educated and counselled regarding ART. This is an important component of patient management as it has been shown that ART is effective if strict compliance is adhered to The patient should receive counselling on the following issues:
Treatment compliance should be strict and adherence to recommended treatment regimens should be greater than 95%.
Treatment has to be maintained for life.
In case of 2nd line regimens, there may be a need to take some drugs with food, others on an empty stomach and that some drugs require an increased intake of water.
The need to identify financial and social support structures including family members, employers, home care programs and medical insurance companies.
Need to attend regularly for monitoring.
The meaning/implications of CD4 lymphocyte counts and viral load levels need to be understood.
Drug side effects
Need to continue monitoring and curbing risk behaviour.
Need to promote disclosure in order to identify adherence assistance.
In case of adherence of children to ART, the need to identify a specific guardian or household member to administer ARV taking
Family planning and child bearing issues such as interactions between ART and oral contraceptives and the need to employ alternate and complementary methods of contraception.