Introduction: Alcohol use by persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) negatively impacts the public health benefits of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Using a standardized alcohol assessment tool, we estimate the prevalence of alcohol use, identify associated factors, and test the association of alcohol misuse with sexual risk behaviors among PLWHA in Uganda.
Methods: A cross-section of PLWHA in Kampala were interviewed regarding their sexual behavior and self-reported alcohol consumption in the previous 6 months. Alcohol use was assessed using the alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT). Gender-stratified log binomial regression analyses were used to identify independent factors associated with alcohol misuse and to test whether alcohol misuse was associated with risky sexual behaviors.
Results: Of the 725 subjects enrolled, 235 (33%) reported any alcohol use and 135 (18.6%) reported alcohol misuse, while 38 (5.2%) drank hazardous levels of alcohol. Alcohol misuse was more likely among subjects not yet on ART (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] was 1.65 p=0.043 for males and 1.79, p=0.019 for females) and those with self-reported poor adherence (aPR for males=1.56, p=0.052, and for females=1.93, p=0.0189). Belonging to Pentecostal or Muslim religious denominations was protective against alcohol misuse compared to belonging to Anglican and Catholic denominations in both sexes (aPR=0.11 for men, p<0.001, and aPR=0.32 for women, p=0.003). Alcohol misuse was independently associated with reporting risky sexual behaviors (aPR=1.67; 95% CI: 1.07-2.60, p=0.023) among males, but not significant among females (aPR=1.29; 95% CI: 0.95-1.74, p=0.098). Non-disclosure of HIV positive status to sexual partner was significantly associated with risky sex in both males (aPR=1.69; p=0.014) and females (aPR 2.45; p<0.001).
Conclusion: Alcohol use among PLWHA was high, and was associated with self-reported medication non-adherence, non-disclosure of HIV positive status to sexual partner(s), and risky sexual behaviors among male subjects. Interventions targeting alcohol use and the associated negative behaviors should be tested in this setting.