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HIV, alcohol, and noninjection drug use

Van Tieu, Honga,b; Koblin, Beryl Aa

Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS: July 2009 - Volume 4 - Issue 4 - p 314–318
doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e32832aa902
Epidemiology: Edited by Tim Mastro and Quarraisha Abdool-Karim

Purpose of review Alcohol and noninjection drug use has been shown to be associated with increased risk of HIV infection in select populations. In this review, we discuss recent data on the prevalence of alcohol and noninjection drug use and the relationship to HIV acquisition and transmission risk.

Recent findings A strong association between alcohol use and HIV-infection risk has been demonstrated in multiple studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. Among men who have sex with men in the USA as well as other countries, substance use is highly prevalent and has been associated with high-risk sexual behavior. Substance use, mental health problems, and sexual risk behaviors conjoin in what is known as a syndemic to increase HIV risk among young men who have sex with men. Only a limited number of intervention studies provide promising results in reducing HIV-infection risk among substance users.

Summary Alcohol and noninjection drug use is prevalent in certain populations. There is a strong association between use of alcohol and noninjecting substances, including methamphetamines, amyl nitrates, cocaine, and other drugs, and HIV-infection risk. This underscores the need for a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy that addresses substance use, including screening and behavioral intervention, among those at risk.

aLaboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention, New York Blood Center, USA

bColumbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York, USA

Correspondence to Beryl A. Koblin, PhD, Laboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention, Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute, New York Blood Center, 310 East 67th Street #3-110, New York, NY 10065, USA Tel: +1 212 570 3105; fax: +1 212 861 5873; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.