Background and objective: It is unknown whether testing HIV-infected individuals for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and informing them of their HCV status impacts subsequent alcohol use. We hypothesized that HIV-infected individuals with current or past alcohol problems who reported being told they had HCV were more likely to 1) abstain from alcohol and 2) not drink unhealthy amounts compared to individuals who had not been told.
Design, participants, and measurements: Data from a prospective, observational cohort study (HIV-Longitudinal Interrelationships of Viruses and Ethanol) were used to assess the association between awareness of having HCV at baseline and subsequent abstinence and not drinking unhealthy amounts as reported at 6-month follow-up intervals. General estimating equations logistic regression was used to account for the correlation from using repeated observations from the same subject over time. We adjusted for age, sex, race, homelessness, injection drug use, depressive symptoms, and having abnormal liver tests.
Results: Participants who reported being told they had HCV were more likely to report abstaining from alcohol (AOR = 1.60; 95% CI: 1.13 to 2.27) and not drinking unhealthy amounts (AOR = 1.46; 95% CI: 1.01 to 2.11).
Conclusions: Among patients infected with HIV who had a history of alcohol problems, reporting being told one had HCV was associated with greater abstinence from alcohol and less unhealthy amounts of drinking.