DOM Blog: HIV Adherence Clinic

World AIDS Day, held annually December 1, offers an opportune time to discuss issues related to HIV and update you on how the UA Division of Infectious Diseases participates in patient care and research innovation to help limit the risks of infection and bring the latest advances in treatment from the lab to the bedside for your benefit. Pictured left below are Drs. Kristen Ellis, Connie Chan and Larry York, authors of this article.

Each year in the United States, about 50,000 people are diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, according to information reported to the federal government and available at Even more concerning is the number of individuals who have not been tested and are unaware that they may be living with the virus and potentially could transfer it to others.

At the University of Arizona Petersen HIV Clinics, operated by the UA Division of Infectious Diseases with a multidisciplinary team including physicians, early intervention specialists, clinical coordinators, case managers, program managers, and pharmacists provide support to those infected with HIV or AIDS in Southern Arizona. One of the highlights of these services is the HIV Treatment Adherence Clinic run by a team of clinical pharmacists from the UA College of Pharmacy.

Because therapy plays such a key role in the management of HIV/AIDS by preserving or restoring the immune function, preventing transmission of the infection, and decreasing further complications, it is important that a patient stays on schedule with his or her medications. There are so many issues, however, that can come up and deter a patient from taking their medications. Some of the more common reasons we’ve come across include concerns about how to pay for the medication, fear of side effects, and mental or behavioral health issues. To address some of these barriers to adherence and promote patient education, we developed a pharmacist-run treatment adherence clinic.


The UA Petersen HIV Clinics—rated among the top in the country for patient care—operate through the clinical facilities of Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South hospital campuses.

The TeamRx (T-Rx) Pharmacy Group, pharmacists at the UA College of Pharmacy affiliated with the clinics, hosts its next Meet-Your-Pharmacist event—"A Holiday Celebration" (with food, prizes & fun)—Thurs., Dec. 7, 2017, 5-6:30 p.m., at the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation offices. Learn more, RSVP and add it to your personal schedule here.

Before each visit at the Petersen HIV Treatment Adherence Clinic, the pharmacist thoroughly reviews each patient’s chart to monitor laboratory values, check for possible drug interactions, and ensures all of the medications that the patient is taking are appropriate. During the visit, an hour is spent with the patient to provide in-depth education about the basics of the infection, discuss his or her therapy, and answer any questions that may come up, including how to take the drugs and managing side effects.

Most importantly, we try to address any barriers that the patient may have to taking his or her medication. Oftentimes, we have had to work with program staff to arrange transportation or housing and encourage linkage to mental/behavioral health services. We also have facilitated obtaining medication through various resources such as manufacturer coupons, government grants, and program funds. One of our mottos that we constantly tell our patients is that “no one should go without a life-saving medication because of cost.” So far, we’ve been 100 percent successful in keeping this promise with our clinic patients. Utilizing federal Ryan White funding, a grant specific for HIV programs, we can also supply our patients with pill boxes, calendars, alarm clocks, and medication journals to further aid with adherence.

Besides the treatment adherence clinic and involvement in the physician visits, we have also created a pharmacy group, called TeamRx (T-Rex), for any individual in the community infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. During these bi-monthly TeamRx meetings led by Kristen Ellis, PharmD, members are invited to enjoy some refreshments and listen to presentations on various topics. Some of topics presented include “Understanding Medication Adherence,” “In the Pipeline: Medication Discoveries,” “Healthy Eating,” “Naloxone Use,” and “HIV and Inflammation,” among many others.

We hope to be a valuable resource for patients with HIV and look forward to continuing our expansion of services and creating more innovative projects to benefit the community in the future.

If you have any questions about our services or hope to be involved in our work, please contact us at

“UA Collaboration Focuses Attention on Emergency HIV At-Risk Patients to Prevent Infection” | Posted Nov. 28, 2017
"New Websites Launched for UA Division of Infectious Diseases, Petersen HIV Clinics" | Posted Sept. 27, 2017
"Pima County Fair, Bisbee Pride to Host Petersen HIV Clinics Awareness Outreach" | Posted April 19, 2017
"Pharm Alumna Plays Central Role in Award-Winning HIV Clinic" | Posted May 15, 2016
"HIV Care at UA Petersen Clinics Rated Among Best in Nation" | Posted July 9, 2015

About The Author

Connie Chan, PharmD, BCPS, trained at the UC San Diego Health System where she first developed a passion to work with HIV patients, and continued her training at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and Banner University Medical Center – Tucson. In July 2014, Dr. Chan established the HIV Treatment Adherence Clinic at the UA Petersen HIV Clinics as well as pharmacist support, TeamRx (T-Rex) Group, during patient appointments with physicians. She is a clinical instructor (International Programs) and lead clinical pharmacist for infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS at the UA College of Pharmacy.

Kristen Ellis, PharmD, BCPS, who trained at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South, joined the HIV Treatment Adherence Clinic at the UA Petersen HIV Clinics and pharmacist support, the TeamRx (T-Rex) Group, in 2015 to provide additional support and currently leads the bi-monthly pharmacy group for clinic patients. She is a clinical pharmacist and clinical instructor (Pharmacy Practice-Science, International Programs) at the UA College of Pharmacy.

Larry York, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVP, is a clinical pharmacist in infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South (BUMCTS). As clinic volume and services continued to expand at the HIV Treatment Adherence Clinic for the UA Petersen HIV Clinics at BUMCTS, Dr. York was brought on in 2016 and brings a wealth of resources given his initial training at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System and specialty training in infectious disease at BUMCT.