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Alcohol abuse may increase susceptibility to HIV infection

  • Alcohol abuse among people with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is significant.
  • Researchers used simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of rhesus monkeys to examine the combined effects of chronic, binge alcohol consumption on the primary stage of SIV/HIV infection.
  • Binge drinking appears to increase the host's susceptibility to SIV/HIV infection.

Alcohol abuse among people with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is significant; one study found that 41 percent of HIV-infected patients met the criteria for alcoholism. Although alcohol abuse and HIV infection individually compromise immune function, the consequences of both conditions together is poorly understood. A study in the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research used simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of rhesus monkeys to examine the combined effects of chronic, binge alcohol consumption on the primary stage of SIV/HIV infection. Researchers found that alcohol consumption may increase host susceptibility to SIV/HIV infection.

"The prevalence of alcohol abuse among HIV-infected people is at least twice that found in the general population in the United States," said Gregory J. Bagby, Kai and Earl Rozas professor of physiology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and first author of the study. "Several studies indicate that individuals who abuse alcohol engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex with multiple partners. By itself this behavior would increase the chances of becoming infected with HIV. What is not known is whether alcohol intoxication or chronic alcohol consumption alters susceptibility to infection upon exposure to HIV beyond the behavioral effects of alcohol."

Twenty-two male rhesus monkeys, four to six years of age, were given either alcohol or sucrose for four days per week for three months. The alcohol doses were individualized in order to achieve plas
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14-Mar-2003


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