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Treating Alcoholism Has Multiple Rewards for Poz People


Addressing a person's alcoholism can lead to increased condom use, and improve HIV medication adherence.

There are more than 36 million people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) worldwide. Alcohol misuse is a significant concern for this population because it contributes to risky sexual behavior, reduces adherence to HIV medication regimens, and exacerbates other health conditions. Interventions that address alcohol misuse among PLWHA have the potential to help improve their health outcomes. A systematic review and meta-analysis led by Lori Scott-Sheldon, Ph.D., at the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, both in Providence, Rhode Island, evaluated the efficacy of existing behavioral interventions in reducing alcohol use among PLWHA.

The analysis reviewed 21 studies (more than 8,000 participants) that evaluated an individual-level intervention addressing alcohol use either alone or as part of a more comprehensive alcohol/HIV intervention, compared with control conditions that offered no intervention or offered informational content. The analysis also assessed the outcomes of interventions that focused solely on alcohol use versus interventions that focused on alcohol use and other risk behaviors.

The meta-analysis showed that behavioral interventions (e.g., motivational therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy) that addressed alcohol use alone or as one of multiple risk behaviors were effective in reducing alcohol consumption, increasing condom use, and improving HIV medication adherence, relative to control conditions. Additional research is needed to develop, refine, and evaluate interventions to reduce alcohol use and improve health outcomes among PLWHA, along with additional strategies to integrate alcohol interventions into routine clinical care for PLWHA.

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