Scientists have claimed that HIV tends to progress at a faster rate in infected individuals who consume two or more alcoholic drinks a day.
According to an important new paper in 'AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses' journal, frequent alcohol use accelerates HIV disease progression -- in fact, two or more drinks a day is associated with declining CD4+ cell counts which indicate a weakened immune system in patients.
Based on the results of a 30-month prospective study, the scientists led by Florida International University, have concluded that alcohol has a direct effect on CD4 cells and that the accelerated decline in CD4+ cell counts in frequent alcohol users is due to drinking.
In their study, the scientists demonstrated that children who were infected with HIV while in utero via maternal-fetal transmission, were subsequently given antiretroviral therapy, and had no detectable HIV in their blood, still produced neutralising antibodies against HIV.
This suggested that low levels of viral replication might still be occurring despite drug therapy, the scientists have claimed.
According to them, the data clearly supported their conclusion that the children's CD4 T-cells may contain latent HIV reservoirs that formed early in life before antiretroviral therapy was initiated.
"It is important that HIV infected individuals make informed decisions relating to alcohol consumption. This article will help to achieve that goal," says Thomas Hope, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal.