Among patients with unhealthy alcohol use, those with HIV are less likely than those without to receive evidence-based alcohol-related care: A national VA study

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 May 1:174:113-120. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.01.018. Epub 2017 Mar 6.


Background: Alcohol use has important adverse effects on people living with HIV (PLWH). This study of patients with recognized unhealthy alcohol use estimated and compared rates of alcohol-related care received by PLWH and HIV- patients.

Methods: Outpatients from the Veterans Health Administration who had one or more positive screen(s) for unhealthy alcohol use (AUDIT-C≥5) documented in their medical records 10/2009-5/2013 were eligible. Primary and secondary outcomes were brief intervention documented ≤14days after a positive alcohol screen, and a composite measure of any alcohol-related care (brief intervention, specialty addictions treatment or pharmacotherapy documented ≤365 days), respectively. Unadjusted and adjusted regression analyses compared alcohol-related care outcomes in PLWH and HIV- patients.

Results: The sample included 830,825 outpatients (3,514 PLWH), reflecting 1,172,606 positive screens (1-5 per patient). For PLWH, 57.0% (95% confidence interval 55.4-58.5%) of positive screens were followed by brief intervention, compared to 73.8% (73.7-73.9%) for HIV- patients [relative rate: 0.77 (0.75-0.79), p<0.001]. After adjustment, comparable proportions were 61.0% (59.3-62.6%) for PLWH and 73.7% (73.6-73.8%) for HIV- patients [adjusted RR=0.83 (0.80-0.85); p<0.001]. Secondary outcome results were similar: for PLWH and HIV- patients, 67.1% (65.7-68.6%) and 77.7% (95% CI 77.7-77.8%) of positive screens, respectively, were followed by any alcohol-related care after adjustment [adjusted RR=0.86 (0.85-0.88), p<0.001].

Conclusions: In this large national sample of VA outpatients with unhealthy alcohol use, PLWH were less likely to receive alcohol-related care than HIV- patients. Special efforts may be needed to ensure alcohol-related care reaches PLWH.

Keywords: Alcohol; Alcohol use disorders; Brief intervention; Disparities; HIV.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans
  • Young Adult