Alcohol Consumption Linked To HIV Disease Progression, Study Shows

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found a link between alcohol consumption and HIV disease progression in HIV-infected persons.

Alcohol use is common among HIV-infected persons, and its impact on HIV disease progression has been examined in in-vitro, animal and human studies. Alcohol may adversely affect immunologic function in HIV-infected persons by various mechanisms, including increased HIV replication in lymphocytes.

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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that is transmitted through sexual contact with infected person, through infected blood exchange, or from mother to baby. A person’s immune system is destroyed by HIV and the white blood cells are impaired, which are necessary for the immune protection.

Therefore hiv virus progresses to AIDS and a person is prone to brain abscesses, lung infections and various other infections.

Alcohol consumption and immune system:

The immune system which protects the body from illnesses is impaired by alcohol. Infection fighting white blood cells are reduced by the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol consumption can suppress immune system cells activities, also called as macrophages, which help in keeping the lungs free from infection.

Compared to non-alcoholics, alcoholics are more prone to cancers and bacterial infections. Alcohol consumption also increases the vulnerability to HIV infection among individuals who are exposed to the virus.

In a person who is already affected, alcohol induced immune-suppression add to HIV induced immune-suppression and increases AIDS related diseases. Response of white blood cells to HIV can be impaired by the alcohol. After consumption of alcohol, white blood cells are more vulnerable to HIV infection.

Alcohol and sexual activities:

Those who drink alcohol are involved in high-risk sexual activities. The high risk activities can be unsafe sex and sex with multiple partners. If there is reduction in alcohol use, there will be reduction in high-risk sexual activities.

People who consume alcohol are less likely to use a condom during sexual activity.

Heavy alcohol consumption can have serious consequences in people who take anti-HIV medicines. Liver processes the alcohol, but healthy liver is important for the body to process medicines effectively. With heavy alcohol, the blood fat increase caused by anti-HIV drugs can be made worse.

If the person is suffering with hepatitis and HIV, he should not consume alcohol at all. If the liver of a person is damaged with heavy drinking, he is more likely to experience side effects from anti-HIV medications.