Original Paper

AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 195-203

First online:

Sero-positive African Americans’ Beliefs about Alcohol and Their Impact on Anti-retroviral Adherence

  • Andrea SankarAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Wayne State University Email author 
  • , Tracy WunderlichAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Wayne State University
  • , Stewart NeufeldAffiliated withInstitute of Gerontology, Wayne State University
  • , Mark LuborskyAffiliated withInstitute of Gerontology, Wayne State University

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Alcohol consumption has been associated with HIV disease progression; yet, the nature of this association is poorly understood. This study sought to determine the influence of patient beliefs about alcohol on ART adherence, and elucidate clinician beliefs about drinking and taking ART. Most patients (85%) believed alcohol and ART do not mix. The three alcohol consumption groups, light, moderate, and heavy, differed in their beliefs about drinking and ART with 64% of light and 55% of moderate drinkers skipping ART when drinking compared to 29% of heavy drinkers. Beliefs were derived from folk models of alcohol–ART interaction. Patients 50 and older were less likely to skip ART when drinking. Alcohol appears to affect adherence through decisions to forgo ART when drinking not through drunken forgetfulness. Furthermore, over one-half of clinicians believed alcohol and ART should not be taken together. These findings have implications for patient care and physician training.


HIV adherence African American Alcohol Patient beliefs Qualitative research