Characterizing the Association Between Alcohol and HIV Virologic Failure in a Military Cohort on Antiretroviral Therapy

Robert G. Deiss*, Octavio Mesner, Brian K. Agan, Anuradha Ganesan, Jason F. Okulicz, Mary Bavaro, Tahaniyat Lalani, Thomas A. O'Bryan, Ionut Bebu, Grace E. Macalino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: The effects of at-risk drinking on HIV infection remain controversial. We investigated the impact of self-reported alcohol consumption on surrogate markers of HIV progression among individuals initiated on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Methods: We analyzed individuals who were surveyed on alcohol use within a year of HAART initiation between 2006 and 2014. At-risk drinking was defined as consumption of at least 3 or 4 drinks/d, or 7 and 14 drinks/wk among women and men, respectively. We performed time-updated generalized estimating equation logistic regression to determine the effect of at-risk drinking on virologic failure (VF) and mixed-effects linear regression on CD4 count reconstitution, controlling for potential confounders. Results: Of 801 individuals initiated on HAART, 752 individuals with alcohol survey data were included in the analysis. Of these, 45% (n = 336) met criteria for at-risk drinking at HAART initiation on at least 1 survey. The rates of VF were 4.30 per 100 person-years (95% CI [2.86, 6.21]) for at-risk drinkers and 2.45 per 100 person-years (95% CI [1.57, 3.65]) for individuals without at-risk drinking. At-risk drinking was not significantly associated with VF (OR 1.73, 95% CI [0.92, 3.25]) (p = 0.087) or CD4 reconstitution (CD4 increase 11.4; 95% CI [-19.8, 42.7]) in univariate analyses; however, in our multivariate model, a statistically significant relationship between VF and at-risk drinking was observed (OR 2.28, 95% CI [ 1.01, 5.15]). Conclusions: We found a high proportion of at-risk drinking in our military cohort, which was predictive of VF in multivariate analysis. Given alcohol's effect on myriad HIV and non-HIV outcomes, interventions to decrease the prevalence of at-risk drinking among HIV-infected individuals are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-535
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Alcohol
  • HIV
  • Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy
  • Military
  • Virologic Failure


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