For those HIV patients who also suffer a loss of memory due to their health condition, a new memory aid can now help them to remember taking their medications on time.
In a study from Johns Hopkins University Division of Infectious Diseases, a pocketsize device giving electronic-voice reminders to "take your medicine" proves to be a success for people living with HIV whose memory is slightly impaired by the virus.
The investigators report that the device, dubbed "Jerry" by most users, is a portable gadget programmed to ease the task of taking medicines in multiple doses every day on time. HIV-infected patients, particularly those suffering from mild memory loss from the disease, benefit highly from Jerry's friendly reminders, according to a study published in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Like an alarm clock, Jerry, more properly known as Disease Management Assistance System (DMAS), flashes a light and verbally tells the patient the exact dosage and medication to take at the correct time. DMAS is rechargeable and weighs about as much as a cell phone. Its computer programming keeps track of the patient's compliance, allowing the doctor to download and print a report for monitoring the patient's adherence to the medication schedule.
Treating HIV can be a grueling task for patients who must follow a hectic pill schedule, a combination of drugs called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Those who miss their medication a few times quickly develop a viral resistance to the drug, a problem since replacement options are few.
Fifty-eight of 64 patients completed the four-month study. Half of the patients were given a Jerry device and attended adherence-counseling sessions, while the other half received only counseling. Those with Jerry took their medication 80 percent of the time, while those without did so only 65 percent of the time.
Of the 31 memory-impaired patients, those using Jerry had a 77 percent adherence rate, while those without Jerry had a 57 percent adherence rate, a 20 percent difference. The remaining patients with normal memory also adhered more with Jerry, but there was not a significant variance from those without the device, according to the researchers.