New UF Study to Examine the Effects of Alcohol in People Who Are Infected with HIV

A group of university research scholars at the University of Florida in the Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory are studying the brain effects of alcohol use and reductions in alcohol use in people who are HIV positive.

Participation includes questionnaires, thinking and memory exercises, giving blood samples, two MRI scans and an interview. This study will assess participants at a baseline and then a similar assessment will be conducted after 12 weeks. In the meantime, they will receive motivational interviewing directed at alcohol use in the context HIV. The assessment will also be repeated at 6 months.

“Historically, many people infected with HIV experience severe cognitive impairments and even dementia in the early years of the AIDS epidemic,” said Dr. Ron Cohen, primary investigator of the study. This is no longer the case because of anti-retroviral therapies, yet HIV is never completely eradicated at this point in history of HIV treatment.

Cognitive problems occur in about 50 percent of people with HIV currently, according Cohen. Alcohol use worsens these effects and may be detrimental to the person’s ability to maintain control of the virus.