New Study Shows Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption Can Harm People with HIV

New Study Shows Moderate Alcohol Consumption Can Harm People with HIV

A newly published study from Yale University shows that moderate alcohol consumption is more harmful to people with HIV than uninfected individuals, raising the risk of both mortality and other negative health effects.

The Yale study is the first to demonstrate the increased harm among patients who have suppressed HIV with modern antiretroviral treatment (ART).

Research has shown that it takes fewer drinks for a person with HIV to feel the effects. However, most prior studies were done on HIV-positive individuals who had detectable virus. The Yale-led team set out to determine whether the risks associated with alcohol were higher among current patients who are more likely to have the infection under control with ART.

The researchers analyzed data on HIV-positive and uninfected patients from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS), a large population of individuals receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration, between 2008 and 2012. They examined the association between alcohol consumption and mortality and other signs of physiologic injury.

They found that HIV-positive individuals were more likely to die and experience physiological harm from alcohol consumption than uninfected individuals. Even consumption of one to two drinks per day was associated with increased risk for people with HIV. The finding was particularly notable because it held true for individuals with suppressed virus, said the researchers.

“It demonstrates that even among people on ART with suppressed viral load, who are much less sick in general, there is still an added effect of alcohol among those individuals than people without HIV,” said Amy Justice, professor of general medicine and of public health. “It suggests the threshold for safe alcohol consumption is likely different for people with HIV.”

Publication: Amy C. Justice, et al., “Risk of mortality and physiologic injury evident with lower alcohol exposure among HIV infected compared with uninfected men,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2016; doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.01.017.

Source: Ziba Kashef, Yale University

1 Comment on "New Study Shows Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption Can Harm People with HIV"

  1. Troy O. Lund, MD | February 2, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Reply

    This is not mentioned in the article but is obvious. The glutathione being produced in the liver is used up by ETOH consumption. HIV and many other viruses suppress the patients ability to produce and recycle GSH. Viruses have difficulty reproducing themselves in an environment rich in GSH. CD4-T-cells cannot propagate themselves without a good supply of GSH. Use up available GSH and the virus is free to reproduce and further suppress de novo GSH production and recycling GSH.
    HIV patients should never be given Tylenol or pain med’s containing Tylenol for obvious reasons.

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