n South African Medical Journal - Clinical alert - heavy alcohol use in patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy : what responses are needed? : in practice

Volume 106, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Alcohol has a negative effect on antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and HIV treatment outcomes.

As part of formative work for a project to test the efficacy of an alcohol-focused intervention to reduce alcohol consumption and improve HIV treatment outcomes, we investigated the extent of problem drinking among patients at ART clinics in Tshwane, South Africa (SA), using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).
The finding that a third of drinkers reported hazardous drinking, roughly 10% reported harmful drinking, and a further 10% were possibly alcohol dependent replicates the findings of similar research in the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces of SA. It also points to the need for more routine screening of ART patients for problematic alcohol use.
The 10-item AUDIT may be too time consuming for health workers in busy ART clinics to administer and score, necessitating even briefer screening instruments for assessing hazardous and harmful drinking.

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