Alcohol and associated characteristics among older persons living with human immunodeficiency virus on antiretroviral therapy

Emily C. Williams, Katharine A. Bradley, Benjamin H. Balderson, Jennifer B. McClure, Lou Grothaus, Katryna McCoy, Stacey E. Rittmueller, Sheryl L Catz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Alcohol use, and particularly unhealthy alcohol use, is associated with poor human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related outcomes among persons living with HIV (PLWH). Despite a rapidly growing proportion of PLWH ≥50 years, alcohol use and its associated characteristics are underdescribed in this population. The authors describe alcohol use, severity, and associated characteristics using data from a sample of PLWH ≥50 years who participated in a trial of a telephone-based intervention to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Methods: Participants were recruited from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) service organizations in 9 states and included PLWH ≥50 years who were prescribed ART, reported suboptimal adherence at screening (missing >1.5 days of medication or taking medications 2 hours early or late on >3 days in the 30 days prior to screening), and consented to participate. The AUDIT-C (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test - Consumption) alcohol screen, sociodemographic characteristics, substance use, and mental health comorbidity were assessed at baseline. AUDIT-C scores were categorized into nondrinking, low-level drinking, and mild-moderate unhealthy, and severe unhealthy drinking (0, 1-3, 4-6, and 7-12, respectively). Analyses described and compared characteristics across drinking status (any/none) and across AUDIT-C categories among drinkers. Results: Among 447 participants, 57% reported drinking in the past year (35%, 15%, and 7% reported low-level drinking, mild-moderate unhealthy drinking, and severe unhealthy drinking, respectively). Any drinking was most common among men and those who were lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), married/partnered, had received past-year alcohol treatment, and never used injection drugs (P values all <.05). Differences in race, employment status, past-year alcohol treatment, and positive depression screening (P values all <.05) were observed across AUDIT-C categories, with African American race, less than full-time employment, past-year alcohol treatment, and positive depression screening being most common among those with the most severe unhealthy drinking. Conclusions: In this sample of older PLWH with suboptimal ART adherence, a majority reported past-year alcohol use and 22% screened positive for unhealthy alcohol use. Any and unhealthy alcohol use were associated with demographics, depression, and substance use history. Further research is needed regarding alcohol use among older PLWH. © 2014

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • HIV
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine(all)


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