Thanks for your questions that are important for lots of people.
The reason for some of conflicting articles you have read are likely to be related to how much someone might drink.
On the one hand, there is no direct interaction between HIV meds and alcohol. Unlike some other recreational drugs, alcohol doesn’t increase or decrease levels of HIV drugs. It is fine to take your meds with a beer, or to have a few drinks over dinner with friends.
Guidelines for HIV-positive people are therefore the same as for the general population.
Here is a link to information about UK recommendations.
Here is a link to an online calculator to see how much you drink.
The NHS recommends:
- Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day
- Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day
‘Regularly’ means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.
However, while your HIV meds work just as well with or without a drink, you might not work as well
Lots of studies have linked routine or heavy alcohol use with a risk of lower adherence – missing doses of your meds – and this then increases the risk of drug resistance and treatment failure.
For some people and in some communities, alcohol is such a significant social problem that alcohol use is an exclusion criteria for accessing HIV treatment.
I’d also add a comment to your reference to HIV drugs being ‘liver burdensome drugs’. This is a common misconception and often scares people from using treatment that is actually very safe.
You liver is built to filter all sort of toxicities. This includes toxicities from medicines, herbs, alcohol, cigarette smoke and food etc. It is usually a good study organ. Although HIV drugs, like any medicine, have the potential in some people to affect the way your liver functions, for most people they have little or no impact.
Routine monitoring on treatment includes checking liver enzyme levels (usually LFT or AFT) and very few people need to switch or stop treatment because of liver problems. When problems develop, these are almost exclusively in people who also have viral hepatitis infections (especially HepB or HepC) or where heavy alcohol use has caused problems.
Information on this website is provided by treatment advocates and offered as a guide only. Decisions about your treatment should always be taken in consultation with your doctor.