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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Brown: Long Term Alcohol Use Patterns Associated with HIV Disease Severity

Long-term patters of alcohol use are associated with HIV disease severity, according to a new study led by Dr. Brandon Marshall, Manning Assistant Professor of Epidemiology.


[Photo: Dr. Brandon Marshall]

Unhealthy alcohol use is prevalent among people living with HIV. Heavy alcohol use can have a significant detrimental impact on HIV disease progression through a combination of behavioral and biological processes, although prior research in this area has been limited to cross-sectional or short-term longitudinal studies. Exploring the effects of long-term patterns of alcohol use on HIV disease progression is an important next step.

Between 2002 and 2010, the researchers assessed alcohol consumption and HIV disease severity among men and women infected with HIV participating in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study. Among participants, four long-term alcohol consumption trajectories were identified: Abstainers (24%), lower-risk (44 percent), moderate-risk (24 percent), and higher-risk drinkers (8 percent). Four HIV disease severity trajectories were also identified: Low (2 percent), moderate (46 percent), high (36 percent), and extreme (16 percent). Higher-risk drinkers were most common in the extreme HIV disease severity group, and were absent in the low severity group.

The results of this study, published in AIDS, suggest that long-term alcohol consumption and HIV disease severity are linked and interrelated in this group of veterans infected with HIV. Based on these findings, future work should identify whether interventions that successfully reduce alcohol consumption also improve HIV disease severity markers.