A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Real Talk


Brief interventions during routine care reduce alcohol use among men with HIV.

Among the more than 1 million people in the US living with HIV, 19 percent meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. The consequences can be severe, with heavy drinking associated with increased liver disease, greater engagement in risky sexual behavior, lower adherence to antiretroviral therapy, and greater risk of death.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) comprise nearly half of the country’s HIV patients and show relatively high rates of alcohol use disorders, but little research has been conducted to identify the most effective ways to reduce drinking in MSM living with HIV.

Yet a new study by researchers from the Brown School of Public Health, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, and Warren Alpert Medical School, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, finds that a simple intervention using a technique called “motivational interviewing” during routine HIV care can have strong and lasting effects. Compared to treatment as usual, MSM exposed to the intervention and a few brief follow-up sessions reported fewer drinks per week, fewer days of heavy drinking, and less condomless sex over one full year.

The researchers say the need to address heavy drinking among MSM with HIV is pressing and that the reductions in alcohol use they saw among participants were considerable.

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