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HIV/AIDS Patients in Rural Areas More Likely to Miss Drug Doses If "Problem Drinkers," Study Says

August 11, 2004

HIV/AIDS patients living in rural areas are more likely to miss doses of their antiretroviral drug regimens if they are "problem drinkers," according to a study published in the August issue of AIDS Patient Care and STDs, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. Lead author Hamish Mohammed, a graduate student at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues interviewed 273 patients at eight rural clinics throughout Louisiana and found that in the week before they were interviewed, one in three patients had missed at least one dose of their medication. Participants were defined as problem drinkers if they answered "yes" to at least two of the following questions: In the past month, did you ever feel you should reduce the amount you drink; did you feel you became "annoyed" by people who criticized your drinking; have you felt "bad or guilty" about your drinking; or have you had a drink in the morning to "steady your nerves" or "rid yourself of a hangover," according to the Advocate. Approximately 13% of the participants were identified as problem drinkers. About 13% of participants reported binge drinking and 17% reported illicit drug use. In addition, 50% of participants reported signs of depression. "People living with HIV in rural communities may face different barriers to taking proper care of themselves," Mohammed said. According to Mohammed, drug treatment regimens often have "significant" side effects and can be complicated, making it difficult for patients to maintain their dosing schedules, the Advocate reports. The researchers said that people living with HIV/AIDS in rural areas may benefit from alcohol abuse programs to help them adhere to their treatment regimens to prevent disease progression and the development of drug-resistant HIV, according to the Advocate (Gyan, Baton Rouge Advocate, 8/10).

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