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Many HIV patients skip medications to drink

November 1, 2012

In a new study, about half of HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy skipped their medications whenever they were drinking alcohol, an ill-advised behavior that could lead to higher viral loads, researchers say. Nearly 200 people with HIV who were on antiretroviral drugs and drank alcohol were followed for a year, and 51 percent stopped taking their medications while drinking - and those same patients tended to have higher viral loads, according to the new report. Andrea Sankar, a professor at Wayne State University, who did not participate in the study, said the belief likely comes from the advice that doctors typically give to patients, which is that they shouldn't drink when they are on therapy. "When clinicians say, 'if you're taking antiretroviral therapy you shouldn't drink,' then what happens is rather than people stopping drinking, they stop taking their medications," she told Reuters Health. Sankar said that doctors' offices are the best place to start changing behavior to make sure people continue to take their medication.;_ylt=A2KLOzK8w5JQ9S4AFHPQtDMD