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.

105 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi James,

    There aren’t any specific foods that are recommended for people who are positive. The key is to get healthy, just like negative people should do.

  2. James

    Which foods are recommended with people on ARVS

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Puseletsi, Most HIV drugs list nausea as a side effect. But it is less common, and usually mild and short term when you start treatment. Here is the i-Base guide to nausea and vomiting. But it’s a good idea to go and talk to your doctor about this. You can ask if switching from Tribuss to other meds might help.

  4. puseletsi

    I started arcs 4months ago the are days where I still feel week and nausea and feel like vomiting .whenever I drink alchol I vomit since I started tribuss treatment, will it ever stop.

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Bennedict,

    People who are positive can drink alcohol, it doesn’t react with ARVs. The main thing is that you drink in moderation. And that you don’t miss taking your medication.

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