1 Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence RI, USA.
2 Behavioral Medicine and Addictions Research Unit, Butler Hospital, Providence RI, USA.
3 Department of Psychology, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester MA, USA.'
4 Lifespan Physicians Group, Providence RI, USA.
5 Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle WA, USA.
6 Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle WA, USA.
7 Department of Health Law, Policy and Management, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston MA, USA.
Depression is common among people living with HIV (PLWH) and some likely turn to alcohol to cope with this emotional distress. Using alcohol to cope is associated with increased alcohol use, persistent longitudinal alcohol use, and alcohol-related problems. This association is particularly concerning among PLWH who are co-infected with Hepatitis C (HCV) because alcohol adds to the damage already caused by HCV. Despite data showing the associated risks of using alcohol to cope, scant research has examined factors that might contribute to coping-based alcohol use in HIV-HCV patients, such as limited social support. Baseline data from a randomized trial of strategies to reduce alcohol use in co-infected HIV and HCV adult patients (n=110) were analyzed. Multiple linear regression models were used to estimate the association between using alcohol to cope, depression, and four aspects of social support, controlling for demographic variables. Results showed that using alcohol to cope was not significantly correlated with social support but was significantly correlated with depressive symptoms. In fact, depressive symptoms and severity of alcohol consumption accounted for nearly 45% of the variance related to coping-based alcohol use. These data highlight the central role of depression in the coping motives-alcohol use relationship among co-infected patients.