Friday, July 15, 2016

Hiding ARVs

One of the things that we asked Focus Group participants about was their strategies for taking ARVs privately while at boarding school.  They described a wide range of tools and methods for doing so. Here is a comprehensive list:
  • Wrap in paper (notebook paper, magazines, newspaper, etc.)
  • Hide it in your food during meals.
  • Hide it in chewing gum packet.  If people ask, say that there is only one left.
  • Hide in your pocket until you have to take it.
  • Put a blanket around your bed (saying that you don’t like the sun) and then you can secretly take it whenever you need to.
  • Let it dissolve in juice or water.  Carry around the same bottle and refill it as necessary.
  • Disguise in Eflagen box (a common medication for headaches.
  • Put on the edge of a cup on the handle and then take it while you are drinking.
We also discovered that about half (6/10) of participants need water to take their ARVs while the remainder (4/10) were able to swallow the pills without water.  This meant that about half the students had more flexibility with how they could take their medication since they didn’t need clean drinking water to be readily available.

While these solutions are applicable to the long-term reduction of stigma from HIV, they are short-term solutions to increasing ARV adherence and therefore, health outcomes while participants are still in boarding school.

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