Half of HIV Patients Skip Medications When They Drink Alcohol

About half of HIV patients skip taking their medication while they are drinking alcohol, a new study finds. The researchers say not taking the medication could endanger patients’ health.

The study followed about 200 people with HIV who took antiretroviral medications and drank alcohol, Reuters reports. Patients may forget to take their medication while they are under the influence of alcohol, the researchers note. They add that there is a widespread, incorrect belief that mixing HIV drugs and alcohol can be toxic.

“The harms caused by missing their medications far outweigh the harms caused by mixing the two, if the person doesn’t have liver disease,” said researcher Seth Kalichman of the University of Connecticut.

“People living with HIV who deliberately stop their medications when they are drinking are at risk for treatment failure,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Stopping HIV treatment may lead to a surge in the virus, as well as drug resistance, Kalichman said.