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Many HIV patients skip medications to drink: Study

Published on Nov 2, 2012 10:47 AM

(REUTERS) - About half of HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy skipped their medications whenever they were drinking alcohol, according to a United States (US) study - an ill-advised behavior that researchers say could lead to higher viral loads.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, for a year followed nearly 200 people with HIV who were on antiretrovirals and drank alcohol. It found that 51 per cent stopped taking their medications while drinking.

Lapses could be due to forgetfulness while under the influence, but a widespread - and erroneous - belief that mixing alcohol and HIV drugs can be toxic appears to play a role.

"The harms caused by missing their medications far outweigh the harms caused by mixing the two, if the person doesn't have liver disease," said Seth Kalichman, a professor at the University of Connecticut and lead author of the study.

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