Alcohol is an everyday drug in Germany. Small amounts are harmless to your health, yet frequent consumption of alcohol can bring on health problems.
Alcohol causes long-term damage to the liver in particular, especially if it is already stressed due to HIV medications. People taking HIV medications should reduce their consumption of alcohol as much as possible.
Plus, when high, the danger of foregoing the practice of safer sex or protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases is heightened.
In small amounts, alcohol acts as a stimulant, a relaxant and has the potential to lower one’s inhibitions.When consumed in large amounts, alcohol can distort the mind, slur speech and slow responsiveness, as well as cause movement and balance problems. The ability to assess risks and make conscious decisions is also impaired.
If you drink too much, alcohol causes nausea and vomiting, cramps and unconsciousness. Potential long-term effects include severe liver damage (cirrhosis of the liver), nerve damage and psychological problems such as depression or hallucinations. There is also a danger of developing a physical or psychological addiction.
Drinking alcohol while taking HIV medications or other drugs that strain the liver significantly increases the health risks. The risk of liver damage is especially high in patients who are taking Viramune® (nevirapine).
Particularly severe damage can also occur if the liver is already damaged from hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). The risk of developing liver cirrhosis (the final stage of chronic liver diseases) or liver cancer is then increased.
Consuming alcohol regularly can cause HIV medications (protease inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors) to be broken down in the body faster. This can lead to a build up of resistance and ultimately the therapy’s ineffectiveness. However, no studies have been conducted on this effect.
Alcohol significantly increases the level of effective agents in Ziagen® (abacavir), which probably has no effect on the effectiveness of the therapy though.