Few treatments have been evaluated to reduce the impact of heavy drinking, alcohol abuse and dependence on HIV-infected patients. These levels of alcohol consumption are associated with decreased adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), an increased likelihood of viral mutations, enhanced disease progression, promotion of liver injury, and increased sexual risk taking. Naltrexone, when combined with counseling, is an effective treatment for heavy drinking, alcohol abuse and dependence yet there are no data on its use or efficacy in HIV-infected patients. The proposed study compares naltrexone to placebo in a 24- week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial in HAART-non-adherent HIV-infected patients with heavy drinking, alcohol abuse or dependence (N=154 ) in an HIV clinic. To determine the long-term impact of treatment, all patients will undergo follow-up at 9 and 12 months. Patients randomized to naltrexone will initially receive the oral daily formulation and, if tolerated, will be transferred to the monthly extended release formulation. All patients will receive the counseling platform of Medication Management (MM) combined with Medication Coaching (MC) (MM/MC). MM/MC is a compound manualized treatment intended to approximate the type of treatment that would be suitable for implementation in an HIV primary care setting. It focuses on reducing heavy drinking (MM) and improving medication adherence (MC) through a series of brief interventions delivered by a medically trained provider. Data analyses will be conducted on the intention to treat sample of patients randomly assigned to receive naltrexone + MM/MC versus placebo + MM/MC. The primary study outcome is adherence to HAART medications. Secondary study outcomes include frequency of heavy drinking, HIV viral mutations (using standard assays and ultra-deep sequencing), change in CD4 lymphocyte counts and HIV RNA, alcohol-HAART hepatotoxicity, and sexual risk behaviors. The novel aspects of this proposal include: 1) Integrated on-site alcohol and HIV treatment;2) The use of extended release naltrexone which is likely to improve adherence in this patient population for whom medication adherence is challenging;3) The use of several measures for HAART adherence including pharmacy refill data;4) The use of sophisticated techniques for examining the development of new viral mutations including the detection of new minor variants;and 5) Collection of detailed data on the hepatic effects of treatment. The proposed study, conducted by an experienced team of HIV and addiction researchers, will help define the role of naltrexone and evidence-based counseling in HAART-non-adherent subjects with alcohol problems.

Public Health Relevance

This project has direct implications for improving the care of individuals with HIV. The goals are to optimize the treatment of HIV disease by decreasing alcohol consumption, improving medication adherence, reducing the risk of HIV drug resistance, improving HIV immune markers, and promoting the prevention of HIV transmission by targeting sexual risk behaviors in patients with heavy drinking. This patient population has been under-represented in these types of intervention studies. The current project will serve to advance this area of research and expand the types of care that HIV-infected patients receive.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-EE (07))
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Roach, Deidra
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Yale University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
New Haven
United States
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