Zahid S Village Pharmacy

How to make your HIV meds easier to take, and help you feel better than ever.

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By: Zahid Somani, Pharmacist-Owner

The Village Pharmacy

Let’s face it – being on medication is hard. Even basics like remembering to take your medications can sometimes feel overwhelming, let alone managing side effects, worrying about interactions with over-the-counter medications or new prescriptions. Finding a routine is a great first step, but there are ways to improve how you take your meds so you can feel better than ever.

For people living with HIV, I always recommend an in-depth consultation with your pharmacist, once-a-year, to review your medications. You’ll be able to talk through all your medications (including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, supplements and recreational drugs) without feeling rushed. You can take some extra time to ask questions about anything you’re concerned about, and together, you and your pharmacist will come up with solutions and a plan to help make sure that you feel at your healthiest.

Checklist of common medication issues:

  1. Do you experience side-effects?

Most HIV medications are well tolerated and don’t have lasting side effects that affect your daily activities. However, if you have recently switched regimens, you may be in a bit of an adjustment period until you figure out how the new medication affects your body. Women also experience different side-effects than men. In many instances, a pharmacist can offer some simple tips, such as taking your medications at a different time, or more advanced solutions as needed, that can dramatically improve how you feel on your meds.

  1. Do you know if your HIV medications interact with other medications?

There are often other conditions in addition to HIV that people take medication for – heart disease, diabetes, hormone therapy, and over-the-counter medications for pain, coughs, colds, flu, digestion issues and more. You may have questions or concerns about interactions with other medications, that you haven’t asked about. A medication review with a pharmacist can offer alternatives if interactions exist, and give you overall peace of mind.

  1. Are you taking your medications at the right time?

It can be difficult to take your medications on time, even for as few as 2 or 3 medications daily. Your pharmacist can offer solutions such as apps, pill boxes or personalized pill packs to help you make sure you’re taking the right medications each day .

  1. Do you pick-up your prescriptions at different times during the month? 

Patients who get their medications at different times each month sometimes run out of medications earlier than expected, or have too much left at the end of the month. They can be hard to keep track of! Medication synchronization enables you to pick up all your prescriptions just once a month, so you’ll save time. Plus, new research shows that patients who coordinate their medications are less likely to run out, or miss doses.

  1. Do you take recreational drugs?

If you sometimes take recreational/party drugs such as marijuana/cannabis, cocaine, mdma, or anything else, it’s a good idea to discuss any concerns you may have about interactions with your pharmacist. At The Village Pharmacy, we have access to a broad database that includes recreational drugs, and we’re happy to discuss your concerns, no judgement.

  1. Do you need financial help with your co-pays for HIV medications?

Even if you have private insurance or you’re on Trillium, making those co-pays for your HIV medications can sometimes put a strain on your bank balance. If you qualify, we can help you apply for programs that can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, and save you money.

Schedule a Medication Consultation with your Pharmacist

If you answered yes to even one of the above questions, an annual medication review with your Pharmacist can give you peace of mind when it comes to HIV, and any other medication issues you may have questions about.

How does a Medication Consultation work?

A medication consultation is a 20 to 30 minute, one-on-one consultation between you and your pharmacist. The pharmacist will review all the medications you have been prescribed, and give you a chance to discuss any questions and concerns you have.

You’ll walk away with practical solutions and a plan for how to better manage your medications, and you’ll feel better about your health and well-being.

At The Village Pharmacy, we offer Medication Consultations for all our clients, with a special focus on HIV. And, because all our pharmacists have specialized experience in HIV, you’ll get advice that is well-informed, evidence-based and personalized for you.

Get in touch.

The Village Pharmacy’s second location at 535 Yonge Street now offers HIV medication consultations. Please get in touch to schedule an appointment. And, as always, we’re here for you for all your questions about your HIV medications and your health.

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Nourishing Our Community with the PWA Essentials Market

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The end of the year is a special time. It’s a time when many people rejoice and celebrate. This is also a time when many of our dedicated donors – supporters like you – send a Special End-of-Year Gift to help people living with HIV.

That’s why I’m writing to you today so soon after my last message. If you have made an end-of-year donation, please accept my thanks. If you think you may be able to help, I’d like to ask you to take a moment now to make an online donation.

Your year-end donation is an investment in helping people maintain good health and hope.

Maintaining good health isn’t only about taking medication. We know from years of experience that good health is also about maintaining good nutrition. PWA helps our clients maintain good nutrition with one of our most unique programs… our Essentials Market.

The PWA Essentials Market is a different kind of food bank. Clients don’t just show up and get handed a box of pre-packaged items. At PWA clients are empowered by letting them ‘shop’ and select what’s best for them. “There’s nothing random to it.” says Paul, a 20-year volunteer at PWA, “It’s quite different from the other food banks you might see around the city.”

Because of your past support, PWA is able to offer clients truly unique and uplifting services like the Essentials Market which goes above and beyond for our clients.

At this time of year your help is more important than ever. In addition to the pressures of the holiday season, many of our clients who count on the Essentials Market are aging and living alone. So, not only does the Essentials Market offer them nutritious groceries, it’s also a reason for them to get out and to be social in a safe, warm and respectful space.

You see, your support has impact in many very important yet indirect ways.

This is why I’d like to ask you to please take a moment now to make a Special Gift during this holiday season. With your End-of-Year Gift, PWA will be able to bring hope, promise and joy to so many in our community!

Please take a minute by clicking here.

I thank you on behalf of all the people living with HIV who will benefit from your continued generosity.

Suzanne Paddock

Executive Director

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