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.


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.

45 comments

  1. Roy Trevelion

    If you skip your treatment just once in a while it’s unlikely to have an effect. But it’s not a good idea to skip your meds more often than very occasionally.

    If you regularly take your HIV drugs late or miss doses completely, talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about other options.

    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.

    Another concern that’s important for people living with HIV is that alcohol can make some side effects worse. This can happen with efavirenz side effects, in particular it can make you feel dizzy, so be careful about this.

  2. vuyo

    Is it dangerous to skip your treatment for a day or two once in a while maybe due to different reasons like being too drunk to take it or taking it maybe 2 to 3 hours before drinking than other days?

  3. Hi Godfrey, even with a good CD4 count there are lots of advantage to HIV treatment. This will be better for your long-term health but reducing the risk of HIV-related infections. It also means your partenrs are protected becasue your viral load is so low.

  4. godfrey

    my cd4 is 600 but im starerd arv ist ok

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