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How I Never Miss A Dose

If you're HIV positive, then I'm sure you've experienced the same bit of panic I've had when I realize, half a day later, I've forgotten to take my HIV meds. The panic comes from knowing that if you miss enough doses, you could eventually develop resistance to one or more of the meds, including cross-resistance to an entire class of anti-HIV drugs.

I've finally got a system in place for my twice-a-day regimen that's cut way down on these panicky moments. I'm only missing about two doses a year now. Even though that makes the title of this post a bit of an exaggeration, it's still something to crow about.

So here's my system. The key for me is using two types of reminders. When I used to rely on just one type of reminder, like the watch alarm I had years ago, sometimes I'd miss it. Or worse, I'd hear it, but would be busy with something, and quickly forget that the alarm went off. So even though I've upgraded from a watch alarm to using my iPhone's alarm function, I also get reminders via email using a free service from Intelecare, a company that "focuses on increasing medical adherence."

Intelecare reminder
I heard about their reminder service a couple of years ago when I worked at They seem to make their money by selling services to other healthcare companies and websites, which allows them to offer free services to consumers. You just create an account online, tell them how you want your reminders delivered (email, text, voicemail, or push notification to their iPhone app), and that's it. You can even have them sent multiple ways at the same time.

So now when I've missed or forgotten about my iPhone alarm, I still have a new email sitting in my inbox as a back-up reminder. I've made it a practice not to delete these emails until I actual swallow my pills.

And that's how I (almost) never miss a dose.

Peter on:


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Comments on Peter Staley's blog entry "How I Never Miss A Dose"

I send a text to my friend, at 9am, 7:30 and 9pm, every day. I use my phone alarm to remind me to text him. Hooray for technology! I will check that website out, thanks for sharing!

Hey, Peter... that's a terrific site, thanks! It's good that they provide a variety of choices (voicemail, text, etc.), as sometimes I'm nowhere near my PC for a day or so.

Another excellent way I (almost never) miss a dose is with one of those plastic 6" X 4" pill holders with the days of the week listed on top and 28 compartments to hold doses for morning, noon, evening and bedtime.

It's especially good if I've taken a dose and (almost immediately) can't remember if I did or not. It's better to leave in plain sight, and it's also portable and easy to take anywhere with you.

my panic comes when they tell you that you no longer get medical assistance bc they say you make too much a year, but with your budget your not. I believe in supporting myself but sometimes you just need help

Good point, Steve. I use one of those too, and should probably have mentioned it. But even though I'd pass it twenty times a day, sometimes I wouldn't notice a missed dose until I'd go to get the next dose 12 hours later. Ughh!

I'm on a once a day regimen. It's so much easier. I put all of my meds, plus supplements in those pill holders. I do a two-week supply when I fill them. This way, after I eat breakfast, all I have to do is pop open one of the compartments and take my dose for the day. Ask your doctor about getting on a once a day regimen. There's even a one pill a day regimen. It makes things so much easier.

I've been on meds from 1991. My problem now is not remembering that i took them. I use to have back up at work and would often double dose. Now I use the plastic bin. A similar process with a portable kit when I travel. I honestly don't recall life without meds.

Unfortunately, I was unlucky enough to get infected
With a mutation of the virus. So one pill a day is not
An option. I also get terrible nightmares from my meds
So sometimes I am just so exhausted from not sleeping
That I skip a night. I recently switched my morning &
Night meds which seems to help the sleeping disorder
a little. But its still a really hard 'pill to swallow' for lack of a better

I have used two free apps on my iPhone to remind me to take my meds. I started out with Pillboxie which has a beautiful interface and can handle all types of meds including injection, oral liquids and a myriad of pill shapes and colors. You drop the pills in a virtual pill box at the appointed time. This was great and really helped me when I was on twice a day Isentress and once a day Truvada. I now take Truvada and Edurant once daily with food which makes it so much easier: I just take my meds at lunch time. I still use an app to remind me, though. iStayHealthy is supported by and provides not only a pill reminder but also CD4 and viral load charting. While not intuitive, there is a way to record missed doses too. I like this app because it's made specifically for HIV with a database of all the current drugs available built in. Just pick your meds, set the time and go. I recommend it to all my poz friends.

Thanks to Brent for his comment re my app iStayHealthy. I created the app indeed with positive people in mind. When I got diagnosed, I found there are a lot of details to keep track of: results, supplementary meds - and finally my anti-HIV drugs. Having iStayHealthy as a one-stop-tool has made my life easier.
Brent made a good comment about recording missed doses. I have been thinking hard lately how to make this a bit more intuitive. I keep working on it, and I welcome any suggestions as well.
iStayHealthy is available for free on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon AppStore (US).
Have a look at my Blog here on POZ as well.

Peter Schmidt, I would love to help you figure out a way for iStayHealthy to help users record when they miss a dose more intuitively (user interface design is one of my many skills ;)).

One thing that I hate about nagging apps that continuously bug you is that I don't always have time (or the patience) to load the app and click the "yeah, I did that" or for the Ab Fab fans, the "GIVE ME BACK MY LIFE!" checkbox ;-). I'm one of those people who has to clear the app badge -- or what I like to call the Red Dot of Shame -- quickly. I feel guilty if I don't. My biggest issue with Pillboxie was that the count on the dot just kept growing if I didn't pop into the app and tell it I was a good boy and took my meds. Like Peter Staley, missing a dose for me is rare, so I would prefer to only record my mistakes and not my achievements.

For this reason I like the way iStayHealthy handles missed doses. For those who haven't used it, iStayHealthy uses an opt-in mechanism. You tell the app not when you successfully remember to take your meds, but rather when you do not. While this works for me, I can understand that it might not work for others who need to be constantly reminded of their meds or those who just started (or switched) their regimen. Adherence is not a one-size-fits-all problem. Having multiple ways to record taken doses or missed doses, as well as a rewards mechanism can really help a person achieve adherence excellence.

Hi Brent G
if you like to discuss your idea further, get in touch with me directly - on

I don't remember life without a hand full of pills. I use a double-sided pill box, sometimes I realize pills are still in one side of the box which of course means I forgot to take them. I hate this virus and everything it's taken from me. Can't wait till it's over!!! HIV positive 25 long years

I use a great app called Medicines List, by the NPS. Lets me check-off when I have taken them.. It has an alarm for 8am & 8pm. On top of this (after missing a dose and totally freaking out.) I have a normal independent iPhone alarm set for ten minutes later in the case that I might possibly have snoozed the warning. and further to this I have another set for 9:30am & 9:30pm. Marking the end of the window of time I should optimally take them in; i.e. 90 mins either way. It hasn't failed me yet and I never ever leave the house without my keys, my phone & a dose of meds.

It's good to hear that I'm not the only one that can take my meds one minute and forget the next that I took them! Those plastic pill boxes are awesome, and I too load them up 2 weeks at a time. Luckily, I rarely miss a dose, but I'm glad to hear about these reminder apps! THANKS!

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Staley published on April 12, 2012 11:55 AM.

Sneak Peek At HOW TO SURVIVE... was the previous entry in this blog.

ACT UP = LOVE is the next entry in this blog.

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