The purpose of this study is to determine whether two brief counseling sessions reduce
drinking and improve health outcomes in HIV-positive women who drink at heavy/hazardous
levels. Also, the study seeks to compare hazardous drinking versus nonhazardous drinking
women on a variety of alcohol, HIV and life quality outcome measures.
Heavy alcohol use negatively impacts HIV/AIDS in several important ways. It increases
HIV-risk behaviors, impairs the immune system and accelerates HIV disease progression. Heavy
alcohol use also interferes with HIV care compliance, including appointment attendance and
Women are particularly important targets for alcohol use interventions. The threshold for
harmful alcohol effects is strikingly low in women, with two drinks per day placing women at
risk for negative health consequences. Heavy/hazardous alcohol use is less likely to be
detected in women receiving health services. Women may be less likely to seek and or engage
in alcohol treatment services, making nontraditional care settings particularly important for
reaching this population.
This proposal tests the utility of a brief alcohol intervention for HIV+ women delivered in a
medical setting. Hazardous/binge female drinkers will be identified in the Johns Hopkins
Hospital HIV clinic and will be randomized to brief intervention or standard care. The brief
intervention will include two sessions that review drinking patterns and behavior change
strategies as well as two telephone calls to reinforce session content. In addition, a
comparison group of nonhazardous drinking, HIV+ women will be recruited. Outcome measures
will include: alcohol/drug use, engagement in an on-site alcohol support group and other
substance abuse treatment services, HIV-risk behaviors, HIV disease markers and treatment
compliance, and psychiatric symptoms.
The investigators hypothesize that women who receive the brief intervention will report lower
mean weekly alcohol consumption and fewer heavy drinking episodes than women in standard
care. The investigators also predict that women who receive brief intervention will adhere to
their HIV medications and keep their health care appointments more consistently, and have
improved HIV-related health outcomes. Finally, the investigators hypothesize that
nonhazardous drinkers will have fewer psychiatric symptoms and better quality of life than
hazardous drinking women.
Comparison(s): Standard HIV care
- Heavy/hazardous drinking levels (i.e., consuming 8 or more drinks per week, or have
reported at least two heavy drinking occasions [4 or more drinks/drinking episode] in
the last six months, or score positively on the CAGE or T-ACE).
- Receiving HIV care in Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) Moore Clinic
- Actively psychotic and other severe mental health symptoms
- Current enrollment in alcohol or drug treatment
- Current enrollment in Hopkins psychiatric services
- Pregnancy (because of the ethical concern of randomization to standard care)