Influence of Alcohol Consumption on Adherence to and Toxicity of Antiretroviral Therapy and Survival

September 2010
Alcohol Research & Health;2010, Vol. 33 Issue 3, p280
Academic Journal
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has substantially altered the fate of HIV-infected people, transforming the infection from an invariably fatal disease to a chronic condition manageable by pharmacotherapy. However, in order for ART to be effective, patients must adhere strictly to an often-demanding treatment regimen. Alcohol consumption may impact survival of HIV-infected patients through a variety of pathways. Some of these are not related to the effectiveness of ART (e.g., alcohol-induced immunosuppression that exacerbates the HIV-related immunosuppression, increased hepatotoxicity, and increased mortality from non-HIV-related causes). However, some pathways mediating alcohol's negative effect on survival are related to ART effectiveness. In particular, alcohol consumption may reduce adherence to ART, leading to decreased ART effectiveness and, ultimately, increased HIV-related mortality. Both clinical data and computer simulations have yielded information about the impact of alcohol consumption on medication adherence in both HIV-infected and noninfected patients. The findings suggest that alcohol-related nonadherence may account for a substantial amount of preventable mortality among HIV-infected patients. These findings may have clinical implications with respect to optimal treatment for HIV-infected patients who also consume alcohol.


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