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heavy drinking and hiv
Sep 20, 2011

my wife was taken into hospital in march this year with pneumonia and then diagnosed with hiv her cd4 100 and VL 273,000 she was put on atripla and long term anti biotics. due to immigration problems she had to tavel back to africa where she is binge drinking 2 or 3 times a week. she has been there 3 mnths and had no monitoring but is taking the drugs. will this have a detremental affect on her health

Response from Mr. Vergel

I am so sorry to hear about your wife having to leave the country due to immigration issues. That can be a very stressful thing for any HIV+ person that may be going back to a country with health care that is not as good as ours.

The binge drinking may be related to her self medicating to deal with the stress and depression related to her moving back. Excessive drinking can have many physical and mental effects.

In an article published by Reuters Health on April 26, 2001 it was reported that, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Addiction Medicine in 2001, researchers from the University of Miami presented their findings on the impact of heavy alcohol use on anti-HIV therapy. The researchers analysed data from 220 HIV positive subjects who were substance users. They defined heavy alcohol consumption as the intake of 3 to 4 drinks per week or daily drinking.

Their results were as follows:

63% of subjects were heavy alcohol users

21% drank alcohol either weekly or monthly

16% did not drink alcohol (non-users)

most of the heavy alcohol users were men and most of the non-users were women

The researchers noted that subjects using highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and who were also heavy alcohol drinkers were four times less likely to achieve a low viral load compared to subjects who were not heavy drinkers. The researchers concluded that "heavy alcohol use appears to significantly affect HAART" and may also reduce the ability of the immune system to repair itself. Another point to consider is that heavy alcohol use may have affected the ability of people in the study to adhere to their drug regimen.

I would try really hard to go into a program to stop drinking, get a sponsor and start attending AA meetings if I was you. Alcohol can also affect your liver and increase the cahnces for insulin resistance and possibly lipodystrophy.

Is there a way for you to get her some help where she lives? Binge drinking will lead to not only health related issues but to accidents, bad judgement, and leave her vulnerable to dangerous situations.

Nelson



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