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"Heavy" Alcohol Use Affects the Effectiveness of Anti-HIV Meds

May 10, 2001

At the annual meeting of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 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.

Reuters Health, 26 April, 2001.

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This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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