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Alcohol Alcohol. 2010 Mar-Apr;45(2):159-66. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agp091. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Causal considerations on alcohol and HIV/AIDS--a systematic review.

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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 33 Russell Street, Room T-518, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 2S1.



The study aimed to explore the possible causal nature of the association between alcohol consumption and HIV/AIDS.


A review based on meta-analyses and reviews was conducted according to standard epidemiological criteria to distinguish causality from association, examining (i) the potential impact of alcohol on the incidence of HIV and (ii) alcohol's impact on worsening the disease course.


In terms of incidence of HIV, although we found a consistent and strong association with consumption, there was not enough evidence for a causal connection. In particular, it is not clear whether personality traits such as sensation seeking or sexual compulsivity and psychiatric disorders such as antisocial personality disorder impact both alcohol consumption and risky sex, subsequently creating an association between both behaviors. In terms of worsening the disease course of HIV/AIDS, we found enough evidence for a causal impact of alcohol. Alcohol affects the immune system, thus contributing to a worsened course of HIV/AIDS. In addition, alcohol negatively impacts on behaviors that include support seeking and medication adherence.


A randomized controlled clinical trial targeted toward at-risk HIV-negative individuals who live in areas with high HIV prevalence is suggested to test the effects of proven effective alcohol interventions on HIV incidence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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