Q and A

Question

Can I drink alcohol with ARVs?

I have started ART a month ago. Before that I used to drink alcohol quite often.

Since I started ART, I try to not drink. But, I still want to.

Can I drink alcohol?

Answer

In general, one or two drink is likely to be fine, if this is something you enjoy. There are no interactions between alcohol and ARVs.

More heavy drinking however can lead to missing doses of your ARVs. This can cause your treatment to fail. This means that if you have a drink, make sure you find a way to not miss any of your meds. Moderation is important.

Two other concerns are important for people living with HIV:

  1. Alcohol can also make efavirenz side effects worse, in particular feeling dizzy, so be careful about this.
  2. Alcohol can make hepatitis or other liver complications progress more quickly. Alcohol is not recommended if you have hepatitis. See this information from the guide to HIV and hepatitis C:
    http://i-base.info/guides/hepc/alcohol

The NHS website has a lot of information about alcohol. This is important whether you are HIV positive or HIV negative. See:
http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/Alcohol/Pages/Alcoholhome.aspx, and
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Effectsofalcohol.aspx

In the UK, the NHS recommendations for alcohol are:

  • Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day. This is only 1-2 pints of lager – ie one strong drink.
    http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/alcohol-units.aspx
  • Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day
  • If you’ve had a heavy drinking session, avoid alcohol for 48 hours.

“Regularly” means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.

…………

This question from 2008 was updated in September 2014.

87 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Jongi,

    As the above post explains its fine to drink when taking ARVs. Just make sure that you don’t forget to take them.

  2. Jongi

    Last night i was drinking a glass or two of redwine, at the moment im on. ART treatment. I stop drinking 15 minutes before taking ARV which is FDC type. Is any of this can affect my HIV treatment ? Or social drinking (like wine or beer) just a glass or two is okay with ART treatment ?

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi RJ,

    Please see the above post.

  4. RJ

    Hi there!

    I was wondering if occasional drinking would affect the ARV medication effect, viral load, and CD4 count. I know sipped from a glass of vodka and soda 2 hours before taking my ARV, although I know for a fact that I didn’t finish my drink. I’m taking a combination of tenofovir, efavirenz, and lamivudine. I haven’t lately tested my CD4 count. The frist time I tested for my CD4 count, it was at 253. I’ve been taking ARV meds for 6 months. The first time I drank alcohol moderately was Setember 8, then I drank again on September 30. But still just moderately, and I didn’t finish my drink. I’m really paranoid whether or not I should be worried about my health.

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Andries,

    Yes you can drink alcohol when taking PEP.Just make sure you don’t miss any doses.

  6. Andries

    Can alcohol be drink when you are on PEP treatment?

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Louisa,

    Yes you can change the time of day that you take your meds. And yes you can have a social drink.

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *