A Memory Jogger for HIV Patients

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TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A pocket-sized device with an electronic voice that reminds HIV patients to take their medicines is effective in helping people whose memory has been affected by the virus, a Johns Hopkins study found.

The four-month study of 58 patients revealed that memory-impaired individuals who used the Disease Management Assistance System (DMAS) device -- dubbed "Jerry" -- had a 77 percent medication adherence rate, compared to 57 percent for those who didn't use the device.

Patients with normal memory who used Jerry also had a higher -- but not statistically significant -- adherence rate in taking their medications compared to those with normal memory who didn't use the device. Jerry flashes a light and tells the patient the exact dosage and medication to take at the correct time.

The study was published in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Jerry, which is rechargeable and weighs about the same as a cell phone, also records patient compliance. Doctors can download the data to track a patient's adherence to their medication schedule.

"One of the biggest reasons HIV patients cite for not taking their medication is just plain forgetfulness. We thought a verbal reminder would be the best possible solution," researcher Dr. Adriana Andrade, an assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University, said in a prepared statement.

Drug adherence is crucial, experts say, because HIV patients who miss their medication even a few times can quickly develop a viral resistance to drug treatment.

"On average, HIV-infected, treatment-naive patients take roughly two pills a day, a significant decrease from a few years ago, when patients had to juggle dozens of medications per week. But with all the regimens, patients must adhere to their medication faithfully because the virus easily develops a resistance, more so than most infectious diseases," Andrade said.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about HIV infection.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins medicine, news release, Sept. 12, 2005
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