NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A doctor at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans has been awarded a $2.7 million, five-year grant to develop and test a program to curb drinking in people who have a problem with alcohol and also have HIV or AIDS.
Alcohol can make medicine less effective against the virus and make people less likely to take their medicine, said Dr. Patricia Molina, professor and chair of physiology at the medical center. It's also linked to an increased chance of infection and to increased viral growth.
People with HIV have to take several kinds of anti-viral medicine a day. Missing doses lets the virus multiply and also make it more likely that a virus will become resistant to medication, making the medicine ineffective for that person.
Molina will lead a team of scientists working with doctors at LSU's HIV Outpatient Clinic and its School of Public Health. They'll enroll 250 people who have the virus, comparing those who get the behavioral program with those who don't in virus levels, alcohol use, HIV risk behaviors and taking medicine.
"This is the first study of this sort and it is important because the Louisiana HIV-positive population appears to have a high level of alcohol use disorders compared nationally, and Louisiana also has a very high number of new HIV cases diagnosed per year," Molina said.
Of 18,602 people living with HIV or AIDS last year in Louisiana, 54 percent had been diagnosed with AIDS. That's the fifth-highest estimated case rate of any state. New Orleans ranks ninth in estimated HIV case rates among U.S. metro areas, with 37 cases per 100,000 residents, and 9th in AIDS case rates, at 23 per 100,000.