Frequent alcohol use `linked to faster HIV progression

Scientists have claimed that HIV tends to progress at a faster rate in infected individuals.

Last Updated: May 14, 2010, 18:39 PM IST

Washington: Scientists have claimed that
HIV tends to progress at a faster rate in infected individuals
who consume two or more alcoholic drinks a day.

According to an important new paper in `AIDS
Research and Human Retroviruses` journal, frequent alcohol use accelerates HIV disease progression -- in fact, tqo or more
drinks a day is associated with declining CD4+ cell counts
which indicate a weakened immune system in patients.
Based on the results of a 30-month prospective study,
the scientists led by Florida International University, have
concluded that alcohol has a direct effect on CD4 cells and
that the accelerated decline in CD4+ cell counts in frequent
alcohol users is due to drinking.

In their study, the scientists demonstrated
that children who were infected with HIV while in utero via
maternal-fetal transmission, were subsequently given
antiretroviral therapy, and had no detectable HIV in their
blood, still produced neutralising antibodies against HIV.

This suggested that low levels of viral replication
might still be occurring despite drug therapy, the scientists
have claimed.

According to them, the data clearly supported their
conclusion that the children`s CD4 T-cells may contain latent
HIV reservoirs that formed early in life before antiretroviral
therapy was initiated.

"It is important that HIV infected individuals
make informed decisions relating to alcohol consumption. This
article will help to achieve that goal," says Thomas Hope, the
Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

PTI