Home Institution

Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Chile: Public Health and Community Welfare


This paper investigated the relationship between alcohol consumption and HIV in Arica, Chile. The objectives of this investigation were to understand the demographics of HIV positive Ariqueños who consume alcohol, and understand their perceptions of alcohol consumption with respect to whether they believed they had a drinking problem, whether they believed that the consumption of alcohol facilitated their contracting HIV, and whether the consumption of alcohol affected their treatment. Although there is no literature that specifically addresses the topic of how HIV positive individuals who consume alcohol perceive their disease, former research suggests that a significant number (25-50%) of individuals with HIV also consume alcohol. Furthermore, it is widely established that alcohol consumption lowers inhibitions, increasing the likelihood sexual risk taking. Furthermore, with respect to therapy adherence, research suggests that alcohol consumption directly affects the success and consistency of treatment. This investigation analyzed the information from 25 questionnaires administered to HIV positive individuals at the public STI clinic in Arica, Chile, who indicated that they consumed alcohol, during the month May of 2009. Furthermore, this report also used the responses of interviews conducted with four of the health professionals working in the clinic. The results from the questionnaire and interview indicated that alcohol consumption among HIV positive patients in Arica, Chile, disproportionately affects marginalized groups, such as bisexual men and individuals who pertain to indigenous groups. With respect to the beliefs that individuals had regarding their illness, respondents indicated that although they were not concerned about their own alcohol consumption, they felt that in general, the HIV positive population of Arica had a drinking problem. Most respondents agreed that the consumption of alcohol contributed to their contracting HIV and that alcohol consumption affects their treatment. This study highlighted the fact that there exists a lack of programming and resources with respect to HIV positive individuals who also consume alcohol. Patients suggested that psychological support that specifically addresses the theme of alcohol consumption would be most effective at lowering their intake of alcohol, lowering the likelihood to partake in risky sexual behaviors increase the success of treatment.


Infectious Disease | Substance Abuse and Addiction


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