Sensible drinking shouldn’t cause any real problems for people living with HIV, but heavy and persistent drinking can have an impact on your immune system and some studies have shown that heavy drinking could speed up the progression of HIV [1]. The UK Government advises that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day You can read more about this by visiting

Alcohol can interact with some anti-HIV drugs – it can alter the levels of some of them in your blood. It’s a good idea to speak to your HIV doctor about how much you drink when deciding what HIV-drugs to take.

Another thing to consider is that when you’re drunk you can easily forget to do things, including taking your anti-HIV drugs on time, or even at all. If you do forget to take one of your doses of anti-HIV drugs, take them as soon as you remember. Even if you missed a dose at night and remembered in the morning, take the dose you missed as soon as you can. Then continue to take your doses at your normal times, even if this means that you will be taking two doses fairly close together.

If you get drunk and are sick after taking your anti-HIV drugs then, depending on how long it’s been after you took them, you may need to take them again. The general rule is that if you took your pills on an empty stomach, take them again if you are sick within an hour of taking them. If you took your pills with food, take them again if you are sick within three hours of taking them. In all cases, however, if you can see the capsule or tablet in your vomit, take the pills again.

If you also have hepatitis then it’s good advice to avoid alcohol – the liver damage caused by hepatitis can be made far worse if you drink. If you do have hepatitis then it’s important to speak to your doctor about this so he or she can talk about the risks of drinking.

If you are concerned with your drinking then you might find it helpful to talk to someone about it. You could speak to your doctor or health adviser at your clinic. The charity Alcohol Concern has information on their website which you may find useful, or you could call the Drinkline operated by Alcohol Concern on 0800 917 8282 for information about what to do if you are worried about your drinking.

There is also a specialist service for gay men in Soho called Antidote LGBT. They offer information and support exclusively to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered people around drugs and alcohol. You can also call them on 020 7437 3523 to arrange an appointment to talk to them in complete confidence.

There may also be a local service near where you live. There’s a list of alcohol support agencies in the section on Help and Support.

"Like most guys, I enjoyed drinking, and this did not stop when I was diagnosed. However, as time has gone on and the number of combinations I have been on has increased, I now find it hard to enjoy a drink when out with friends. Even at home I rarely have a drink even with a meal. However, I still enjoy the odd spirit, especially after dinner." (Tom, 45)




Read more
1 Boston University. Alcohol Consumption Linked To HIV Disease Progression, Study Shows. August 22, 2007.