Link documented between problem drinking, noncompliance with HIV treatment

A large proportion of patients with HIV infection have drinking problems that may adversely affect their adherence to complicated antiviral drug regimens, study results show.

Dr. Robert L. Cook from the University of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, and colleagues surveyed 212 HIV-positive patients visiting two outpatient clinics. Nineteen percent of the patients reported problem drinking in the previous month, including binge drinking, drinking a large quantity every week, and having specific problems related to drinking.

Individuals with drinking problems were twice as likely as others to report taking their medications off schedule, and somewhat more likely to report missing their medication doses, the researchers found.

According to the survey responses, some patients miss medications because they are out drinking, others forget, and others neglect to get refills on time. “The bottom line is that reasons for missing medications may differ from patient to patient, so an individualized approach may work best,” Dr. Cook said.

He said that it is important to note that not all people with drinking problems reported difficulty taking their medication. “We encourage physicians to screen all patients for drinking problems. If drinking is identified, we encourage physicians to discuss this with their patients and to point out that drinking could interfere with medication adherence,” Dr. Cook said.


J Gen Intern Med 2001;16:83-88.

Source: Reuters Health

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