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Alcohol consuption and Aids progression
Oct 30, 1996

I'm wondering how alcohol may affect the progression of Aids. I just found out I have Aids and have entered an unreasonable funk; and I,m drinking. Thank You very much .

Response from Dr. Cohen

While people often assume that drinking, smoking, taking drugs, and staying up late speeds the progression of HIV, the fact is that we don't really know if that's true, even though it seems obvious that it would. Of course, the fact that it's hard to prove something doesn't mean it isn't true.

But I don't think that you should be focusing on whether drinking will accelerate the progression of your HIV disease. Right now, what are your immediate health concerns? What are the things that are making you miserable and compromising your health? Probably not HIV. More likely, it's your depression and alcoholism. If I told you that there was absolutely no risk that drinking and depression would accelerate the progression of your disease, would it mean that you could go on as you are? Of course not, because you're clearly not doing well and you're unhappy.

Whether or not there's a direct biological effect on alcohol abuse on HIV progression, we know that there are plenty of other health risks. There are also way that alcoholism affects HIV-infected people in particular. They may have more liver toxicity from their medications. They may be more likely to get pancreatitis from ddI and ddC. They may be less capable of keeping their appointments or taking their medications properly.

In order for you to take the right steps to deal with HIV, you need to address those other problems that will otherwise get in the way of care. I would urge you to talk to your doctor about whether you could be depressed; to get some counseling; and to think about AA. After that, you'll be in better shape to deal with your HIV infection

Can time of infection be estimated?
HIV+ not developing aids

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