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.

25 comments

  1. efua

    I tested postive 3 days back, and was told to start on Septrin as they wait to test for my CD4.
    how can manage Septrin with alcohol because i drink alot and cannot stop instantly but i will gradually?

  2. Hi

    I am sorry that you are going through a difficult time. Also that your mother is also causing you to worry so much.

    This is difficult for me to help with because I am in a different country but is there anyone that you can talk to? Perhaps you could talk to the health workers at your mothers clinic.

    Contacting a local HIV support groups might be good for both you and your mother.

    It is very difficult when someone you love has behaviours that is not good for their health. Your mother is lucky to have you looking out for her but are you ecery able to talk about this with your mother? Is there anyone else in the family that could help?

  3. p

    i have a with my mother shes drinking everyday nd shes on pillz i tried to tlk to her bt she doesnt listen to me…shes not even taking her medication i tried bt i failed

  4. Hi,

    Drinking alcohol will not affect your HIV medication, as long as you remember to take your pills!

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