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Alcohol and Aids
Oct 12, 2000

My husband has Aids and likes to drink beer, I thought I had read that it brings down the CD4 count. Is that true. Can you direct me to some material I can download to show him this?

Response from Dr. Cohen

Well, I can't point you to very much written on this. But here is some writing...

Quite likely a key issue is that the amount of beer is very important. "Normal" amounts probably don't have any important impact on the Cd4 counts. Unless normal is defined as a quart or more of Bud each day, in which case we need to talk about liver damage. Which may not directly lead to a loss of CD4 cells but clearly can shorten life. There are some test tube studies that show a negative impact of alcohol on the health of immune system cells -- but it remains unclear how that translates into amounts that people drink.

It is noteworthy that when we try to define who is drinking too much, one question that helps is if a loved one is concerned that someone drinks too much. Now, if that is your concern here -- then hopefully you can discuss this with him. And it is likely that too much beer, or any alcohol will cause trouble over time. But thankfully an occasionally bottle or two of Sam Adams, Pete's Wicked, Anchor Steam, or even Dixie is usually tolerated pretty well in those with a healthy liver. (Well, maybe not Dixie....)


Cal Cohen, M.D., M.S.

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