Providence, RI — Living with HIV is difficult under the best of circumstances, but for people carrying the virus, alcohol consumption can become particularly perilous in intricate ways that are only beginning to be understood. At the Brown Alcohol Research Center on HIV (ARCH) funded by a new $7.5-million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, Brown University scientists will study the health effects of drinking with HIV and provide doctors and patients with the latest guidance their results suggest.
Alcohol can produce many unique complications and risks in the life of an HIV-positive person, said Peter Monti, the Donald G. Millar Distinguished Professor of Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown and the director of the ARCH. Both alcohol and the virus can independently weaken the brain and the liver, for example. Researchers suspect that the confluence of health effects becomes even more complicated when alcohol undermines a patient’s adherence to antiretroviral medications or inclination to remain abstinent or engage in safe sex.
“We want healthier individuals living with HIV, especially now that they are living longer,” Monti said. “We’ll hopefully determine whether people have to stop drinking or reduce their drinking.”
Alcohol use is generally understood to be more prevalent among at least some major groups of HIV-positive people than in the general population, said Monti, who directs the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.