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:
    https://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.

159 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Brenda,

    Yes it’s OK to drink wine when you’re taking ARVs.

  2. Brenda

    I’m on ARVs since 2019 and my viral. Load undetacted. I drink 2 or 3 glasses of wine once or twice in a month only 1day. Is it OK?

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Asok,

    Yes you can drink alcohol when taking ARVs.

  4. Asok

    I started art 5 month ago can I drink alcohol 2_3 time in a month

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Anonymous,

    What ARVs are you taking?
    As you’re new to meds, you may find the following helpful- http://i-base.info/guides/starting

  6. Anonymous

    I just started arv and from previous comment I unederstand the side effects like feeling dizzy will take some time.I want to find i can take a painkiller for instance in case of body pain or headache.and and also can I take supplements like omega 3 or garlic capsules and also my protein for work out.

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Dhillon.

    As the above post explains, yes you can drink.

  8. Dhillon

    I am on a art. My cd4 300 and my viral load under 20. Can I drink alcohol for enjoy weekend

  9. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Boy,

    A CD4 count above 500 for someone taking HIV meds is considered normal. So it’s not at all bad. It sounds like your HIV meds are working well. If you have access to your viral load results please let us know what they are.

    HIV meds and alcohol do not interact. So you can enjoy drinking wine. However, heavy drinking can mean you might forget to take your ARVs.

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