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Alcohol's Effects on Health

Research-based information on drinking and its impact.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) targets the body’s immune system and often leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

The U.S. CDC reported that in 2015, 39,513 people were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States; more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and 1 in 8 of them don’t know it. 

Scientists have learned that alcohol misuse can contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS and affect treatment for infected patients.

  • Misusing alcohol or other drugs can impair judgment, leading a person to engage in unsafe sexual behaviors.
  • People who drink heavily may delay getting tested for HIV and, if they do test positive, they may postpone seeking treatment.
  • Alcohol misuse may make it difficult for infected patients to follow the complex medications regimen that is often prescribed to treat HIV/AIDS.
  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD) can contribute to conditions such as liver disease and other disorders that have an impact on the progression of HIV infection.

All of these factors increase the likelihood that an infected person will infect others or will go on to develop AIDS.

Learn more about HIV/AIDS at:



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