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Williams EC, Lapham GT, Shortreed SM, Rubinsky AD, Bobb JF, Bensley KM, Catz SL, Richards JE, Bradley KA. Among patients with unhealthy alcohol use, those with HIV are less likely than those without to receive evidence-based alcohol-related care: A national VA study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2017 May 1; 174:113-120.
BACKGROUND: Alcohol use has important adverse effects on people living with HIV (PLWH). This study of patients with recognized unhealthy alcohol use estimated and compared rates of alcohol-related care received by PLWH and HIV- patients. METHODS: Outpatients from the Veterans Health Administration who had one or more positive screen(s) for unhealthy alcohol use (AUDIT-C 5) documented in their medical records 10/2009-5/2013 were eligible. Primary and secondary outcomes were brief intervention documented 14days after a positive alcohol screen, and a composite measure of any alcohol-related care (brief intervention, specialty addictions treatment or pharmacotherapy documented 365 days), respectively. Unadjusted and adjusted regression analyses compared alcohol-related care outcomes in PLWH and HIV- patients. RESULTS: The sample included 830,825 outpatients (3,514 PLWH), reflecting 1,172,606 positive screens (1-5 per patient). For PLWH, 57.0% (95% confidence interval 55.4-58.5%) of positive screens were followed by brief intervention, compared to 73.8% (73.7-73.9%) for HIV- patients [relative rate: 0.77 (0.75-0.79), p < 0.001]. After adjustment, comparable proportions were 61.0% (59.3-62.6%) for PLWH and 73.7% (73.6-73.8%) for HIV- patients [adjusted RR = 0.83 (0.80-0.85); p < 0.001]. Secondary outcome results were similar: for PLWH and HIV- patients, 67.1% (65.7-68.6%) and 77.7% (95% CI 77.7-77.8%) of positive screens, respectively, were followed by any alcohol-related care after adjustment [adjusted RR = 0.86 (0.85-0.88), p < 0.001]. CONCLUSIONS: In this large national sample of VA outpatients with unhealthy alcohol use, PLWH were less likely to receive alcohol-related care than HIV- patients. Special efforts may be needed to ensure alcohol-related care reaches PLWH.