Intensive treatment reduces alcohol use, improves HIV outcomes: Study

Health Desk: Stepped alcohol treatment has helped HIV positive people coping with alcohol addiction, claimed researchers. Stepped care is used to treat patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension and depression.

It entails the use of different treatments that are “stepped up,” or increased in intensity over time, in response to patients’ needs. The stepped-care patients were offered evidence-based treatments, including medication, motivational therapy, and speciality care at either an outpatient or residential treatment facility.

At the end of the study period, the researchers found that patients who received integrated stepped care fared better overall. After 52 weeks, stepped-care patients had fewer heavy drinking days, drank less per drinking day, and had more days of abstinence, the researchers noted.

“We saw overall improvements in drinking. We also found improved HIV outcomes at the 52-week mark,” said Jennifer Edelman, the lead author of the study. “Over time, the patients receiving integrated stepped care showed decreases in alcohol use and a higher rate of undetectable HIV viral load, likely related to improved HIV medication adherence,” Edelman noted.