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.

37 comments

  1. a couple of drinks – one or two – would be unlikely to make any difference. I can’t comment of a mild rsh and alcohol tolerance. If your ART includes efavirenz, than nything more than a mild rash should be showen to your doctor.

  2. Ntombi

    I am a 35 yr old lady last weeknd i had 2 glusses of white wine and i took my arvs @ 20h00 as always and continued with another glass of wine but later i stopped and took water. the next day i developed an allergy its a bit itchy so am wondering is alcohohol?

  3. tubatsi selepe

    This pain on my left abdomen is really killing me and I have taken scan and blood test they cannot see any problem.The pain is affecting my left leg as well what can be the cause of this pain and I’m non alcoholic .

  4. Hi Andy – great that everything is going so well. Without knowing how much you drink it is difficult.

    One of two drinks every month is okay – but 1 or 2 binge drinking sessions where you get really drunk doesn’t sound so good.

    But if

  5. Andy

    I am a 20 year old young woman living with HIV and had recently started ARV’s not because I became sick but I was passing by a nearer clinic and decided why not. I have dealt with the pain and shock of living with this disease therefore I am doing fine but the only problem is I can’t stop drinking alcohol. I do not drink everyday maybe twice in a month during weekends. Does that affect my viral load and CD4 count?

  6. Roy Trevelion

    There’s no interaction between alcohol and ARVs. People on HIV meds can expect to live healthy and long lives. So the occasional party can be enjoyed. There’s no harm in having few whiskies or glasses of wine.

  7. Sterne

    I have been on ARVs since 2003 and I am a born again christian. On rare occassions like parties etc, I enjoy a few shots of whisky or a couple glasses of wine. Is there any harm?

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