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Binge Drinking Relates to Worse Neurocognitive Functioning Among Adults Aging with HIV

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2021

Emily W. Paolillo
San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA
Rowan Saloner
San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA
Maulika Kohli
San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA
C. Wei-Ming Watson
San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA
Raeanne C. Moore
UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, San Diego, CA, USA
Robert K. Heaton
UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, San Diego, CA, USA
David J. Moore*
UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, San Diego, CA, USA
*Correspondence and reprint requests to: David J. Moore, UC San Diego, HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program, 220 Dickinson St, Suite B, MC8231, San Diego, CA 92103-8231, USA. E-mail:



Given the aging population of people with HIV (PWH), along with increasing rates of binge drinking among both PWH and the general older adult population, this study examined the independent and interactive effects of HIV, binge drinking, and age on neurocognition.


Participants were 146 drinkers stratified by HIV and binge drinking status (i.e., ≥4 drinks for women and ≥5 drinks for men within approximately 2 h): HIV+/Binge+ (n = 30), HIV−/Binge+ (n = 23), HIV+/Binge− (n = 55), HIV−/Binge− (n = 38). All participants completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery measuring demographically-corrected global and domain-specific neurocognitive T scores. ANCOVA models examined independent and interactive effects of HIV and binge drinking on neurocognitive outcomes, adjusting for overall alcohol consumption, lifetime substance use, sex, and age. Subsequent multiple linear regressions examined whether HIV/Binge group moderated the relationship between age and neurocognition.


HIV+/Binge+ participants had worse global neurocognition, processing speed, delayed recall, and working memory than HIV−/Binge− participants (p’s < .05). While there were significant main effects of HIV and binge drinking, their interaction did not predict any of those neurocognitive outcomes (p’s > .05). Significant interactions between age and HIV/Binge group showed that HIV+/Binge+ participants demonstrated steeper negative relationships between age and neurocognitive outcomes of learning, delayed recall, and motor skills compared to HIV−/Binge− participants (p’s < .05).


Results showed adverse additive effects of HIV and binge drinking on neurocognitive functioning, with older adults demonstrating the most vulnerability to these effects. Findings support the need for interventions to reduce binge drinking, especially among older PWH.

Research Article
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2021

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