Alcohol Consumption, What’s Its Relationship With HIV?

Consuming alcohol, as well as other substances which alter consciousness, has been linked with HIV in different ways. The first crossing point arises with the potential increase in risk of acquiring HIV after ingesting alcohol. Perhaps this is why Mexico’s Department of Health, through the National Council against Addictions (Conadic), dedicates an article on its website to talk about the way in which alcoholic beverages may influence on the possibility of getting, transmitting or not being able to control the spread of HIV. 

Alcohol as a facilitator

For starters, the institution points out, alcohol consumption facilitates risky behaviors, such as unprotected sexual relations or the shared use of syringes in order to administer injectable drugs, the two main ways in which the infection is transmitted. 

It may impact in the progression of the infection 

With people who already live with HIV, excessive alcohol consumption may have an impact in the progression of the infection, effects which have been widely studied. “Alcohol could negatively affect the immune function in people with HIV through various mechanisms, among which the increase in the replication of HIV in immune cells is included”, the article cautions. 

It affects adherence to treatment

Besides, when an already diagnosed person starts their antiretroviral treatment, frequent or excessive consumption of alcohol interferes with their adherence to treatment, this means, it may cause the person to stop taking their medications as prescribed, which gives way for the virus to increase its replication and this could lead to worsening of the infection

You may fall into a vicious circle 

An interesting phenomenon which has also been observed is that inflammatory mechanisms caused by HIV may stimulate the excessive consumption of alcohol, while, at the same time, increases neural inflammation, putting the person in a vicious circle

Because of all this, Conadic considers it important to promote timely detection of problematic alcohol consumption among people with HIV, as well as in men who have sex with men, transsexual people and sex workers, since by tackling a possible addiction, another series of risks specifically related to the virus may be avoided. 

If you have a positive HIV diagnosis, you are not alone. At AHF Latam & Caribbean we offer counseling and accompaniment services. Locate an AHF or Allied center near you and visit us for more information. We can help you.