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AIDS Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 751827, 14 pages
Review Article

Alcohol Consumption, Progression of Disease and Other Comorbidities, and Responses to Antiretroviral Medication in People Living with HIV

1Departments of Pharmacology & Toxicology and Global Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1A1
2In Vitro Drug Safety and Biotechnology, MaRS Discovery District, 101 College Street, Suite 300, Lab 351, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1L7
3Institute of Drug Research, Canada
4Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town-Tygerberg 7505, South Africa
5Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town-Tygerberg 7505, South Africa

Received 6 September 2011; Revised 13 December 2011; Accepted 2 January 2012

Academic Editor: Frederick L. Altice

Copyright © 2012 Manuela G. Neuman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present paper describes the possible connection between alcohol consumption and adherence to medicine used to treat human deficiency viral (HIV) infection. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has a positive influence on longevity in patients with HIV, substantially reducing morbidity and mortality, including resource-poor settings such as South Africa. However, in a systematic comparison of HAART outcomes between low-income and high-income countries in the treatment of HIV-patients, mortality was higher in resource-poor settings. Specifically, in South Africa, patients often suffer from concomitant tuberculosis and other infections that may contribute to these results. Alcohol influences the use of medicine for opportunistic infections (e.g., pneumonia, tuberculosis), or coinfections HIV-hepatitis viruses-B (HBV) and C (HCV), cytomegalovirus, or herpes simplex virus. Furthermore, alcohol use may negatively impact on medication adherence contributing to HIV progression. The materials used provide a data-supported approach. They are based on analysis of published (2006–2011) world literature and the experience of the authors in the specified topic. Intended for use by health care professionals, these recommendations suggest approaches to the therapeutic and preventive aspects of care. Our intention was to fully characterize the quality of evidence supporting recommendations, which are reflecting benefit versus risk, and assessing strength or certainty.