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Addiction. 2010 Nov;105(11):1942-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03075.x. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Reductions in alcohol and cocaine use following a group coping intervention for HIV-positive adults with childhood sexual abuse histories.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Medical Psychology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC 27708, USA.



Few interventions exist to reduce alcohol and non-injection drug use among people living with HIV/AIDS. This study tested the effects of a coping group intervention for HIV-positive adults with childhood sexual abuse histories on alcohol, cocaine and marijuana use.


Participants were assigned randomly to the experimental coping group or a time-matched comparison support group. Both interventions were delivered in a group format over 15 weekly 90-minute sessions.


A diverse sample of 247 HIV-positive men and women with childhood sexual abuse were recruited from AIDS service organizations and community health centers in New York City.


Substance use was assessed pre- and post-intervention and every 4 months during a 12-month follow-up period. Using an intent-to-treat analysis, longitudinal changes in substance use by condition were assessed using generalized estimating equations.


At baseline, 42% of participants drank alcohol, 26% used cocaine and 26% used marijuana. Relative to participants in the support group, those in the coping group had greater reductions in quantity of alcohol use (Wald χ²(₄)=10.77, P = 0.029) and any cocaine use (Wald χ²(₄) = 9.81, P = 0.044) overtime.


Many HIV patients, particularly those with childhood sexual abuse histories, continue to abuse substances. This group intervention that addressed coping with HIV and sexual trauma was effective in reducing alcohol and cocaine use, with effects sustained at 12-month follow-up. Integrating mental health treatment into HIV prevention may improve outcomes.

© 2010 The Authors, Addiction © 2010 Society for the Study of Addiction.

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