Various medication capsules.

Since my journey with HIV began, I had always picked up my medication from a Sydney hospital pharmacy which was open between 9:30am and 4:00pm. For me, that meant making a fifty minutes round trip (at least!) to collect them. In 2012 when I moved to the Southern Highlands, I had to either stock up, get them posted out to me or remember to collect them from the hospital whenever I visited to Sydney.

In 2015 all that changed, when I was able to pick up my HIV medication from a pharmacy in Moss Vale, just a few minute’s drive from my home in Bowral like any other medication. Today, now that I’ve moved back to Sydney, I get my meds from two different pharmacies within a 5km radius of where I live.

The change in policy in July 2015 has made managing my HIV and my life feel easier. I have more convenience and I am less stressed about getting them because local pharmacies are open longer. Where I collect from now opens at 8am and closes at 6pm which means I have plenty of flexibility and ease to access the medication.

The Priceline pharmacy I use is open 7 days a week and this extra two day flexibility makes my medication and life incredibly more easier. I especially like not being forced to walk into the hospital to go to the pharmacy, which is a painful reminder of a traumatic time in my life which still affects me today.

My local pharmacy is quicker, my wait time is minutes and they hold my script on file like any other medication. What’s more, I don’t even have to order them in advance. I simply receive a text message from the pharmacy that they are ready to collect when they’re due. I remember when I ran out of medication previously, I could only go into the hospital pharmacy during work hours. I had to attend the emergency department instead and I felt like I’d wasted the time of the emergency staff to deal with dispensing just a handful of pills until the following weekday so I could gain access to my full two months supply. I recall there was also a degree of paperwork involved for the staff when they could have been dealing with more critical health cases.

I’ve also been able to develop a whole new relationship with my local pharmacist. She’s educated around the medication and asks after my life and my journey as she is genuinely interested in my health. This is a big difference from the hospital pharmacy where their workload is clearly significant at times.

For me getting my prescription filled at the local chemist has been the best thing for my health. It’s normalised things a lot. Even more than ever, these days living with HIV is just a small part of my life.

If you live with HIV and need support or have any questions about medications and treatments you can call Positive Life (02) 9206-2177, 1800 245 677 (freecall) or email contact@positivelife.org.au

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