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Does Alcohol Cause Problems?
Aug 14, 2001

My lover has recently started drinking heavily - sometimes as much as a six pack a night, if not more. I am worried that the alcohol will not allow his HIV medications to work properly. Also, when he does drink, he eats so little, and really does not take care of himself. Right now, he is drinking to hide from the emotional and physical pain he is having. What can I do for him, and are my concerns justified?

Response from Dr. Henry

Alcohol can cause numerous health problems in this setting. Use of alcohol can lead to increased rates of unsafe sex which can lead to acquisition of additional strains of HIV or other infectious processes. Excess use of alcohol can also contribute to decreased adherence to taking HIV medications. Alcohol can also damage the liver and/or pancreas. Persons co-infected with hepatitic C are particularly susceptible to liver damage when alcohol is consumed excessively. As assessment of his alcohol use by his MD and/or chemical dependency/mental health worker would be a good idea in this setting. KH

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