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Alcohol -vs- Immune system

Oct 23, 2000

Thank you for the time you take to answer these questions. I have read practically all of them. I can't find anything related to my predicament, so I honestly believe that you have never heard this question.

I know that alcohol consumed in large amounts can adversely affect the immune system. Could binge drinking (large amounts) on the on the weekends delay the body's response to HIV? More to the point, if an individual went overboard on alcohol at least once a week and sometimes twice, would the body's response be slower to recognize and slower mount a defense against this virus? Could this theoretically delay the symptoms associated with Acute Retroviral Syndrome (ARS)? Instead of the normal 2-3 week seroconversion time frame, would a binge drinker seroconvert later? Also, if the body's response is slower to the fight, therefore giving the virus more time to freely replicate itself, would the ARS symptoms be more severe?

Thank you again for your time!

Response from Mr. Kull

I do not know specific answers to your questions. I think the answers are elusive because I'm not aware of any studies that specifically examine alcohol and acute retroviral syndrome.

The general effects that alcohol has on immunity is an important topic. There is evidence that alcohol -- and probably in larger quantities -- might negatively affect immune cells, but how that translates into the immune system's ability to fight HIV is unclear. Refer to Cal Cohen's response to Alcohol and AIDS.

You might want to look at your binge drinking and how that affects your mental health and behavior. Having unprotected sex when you are drunk is probably the issue to focus on instead of how alcohol affects the body's speed in fighting HIV.


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