AIDS and behavior 21(Suppl 2) 262-273 doi 10.1007/s10461-017-1921-4
The harmful use of alcohol is a component cause for more than 200 diseases. The association between alcohol consumption, risk taking behavior and a range of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS is well established. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS as well as harmful alcohol use in low and middle income countries is high. Alcohol has been identified as a modifiable risk factor in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The objective of this paper is to define research priorities for the interaction of alcohol and HIV/AIDS in low and middle income countries. The Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) priority setting methodology was applied in order to assess research priorities of the interaction of alcohol and HIV/AIDS. A group of 171 global and local experts in the field of alcohol and or HIV/AIDS related research were identified and invited to generate research questions. This resulted in 205 research questions which have been categorized and refined by senior researchers into 48 research questions to be evaluated using five criteria: answerability, effectiveness, feasibility, applicability and impact, as well as equity. A total of 59 experts participated independently in the voluntary scoring exercise (a 34% response rate). There was substantial consensus among experts on priorities for research on alcohol and HIV. These tended to break down into two categories, those focusing on better understanding the nexus between alcohol and HIV and those directed towards informing practical interventions to reduce the impact of alcohol use on HIV treatment outcomes, which replicates what Bryant (Subst Use Misuse 41:1465-1507, 2006) and Parry et al. (Addiction 108:1-2, 2012) found. Responses from experts were stratified by location in order to determine any differences between groups. On average experts in the LMIC gave higher scores than the HIC experts. Recent research has shown the causal link between alcohol consumption and the incidence of HIV/AIDS including a better understanding of the pathways through which alcohol use affects ARV adherence (and other medications to treat opportunistic infections) and CD4 counts. The results of this process clearly indicated that the important priorities for future research related to the development and assessment of interventions focusing on addressing alcohol and HIV/AIDS, addressing and exploring the impact of HIV risk and comorbid alcohol use, as well as exploring the risk and protective factors in the field of alcohol and HIV/AIDS. The findings from this priority setting exercise could guide international research agenda and make research funding more effective in addressing the research on intersection of alcohol and HIV/AIDS.