The populations at risk for HIV infection, as well as those living with HIV, overlap with populations that
engage in heavy alcohol consumption. Alcohol use has been associated with high-risk sexual behavior and an increased
likelihood of acquiring HIV, as well as poor outcome measures of disease such as increased viral loads and declines in
CD4+ T lymphocytes among those living with HIV-infections. It is difficult to discern the biological mechanisms by
which alcohol use affects the virus:host interaction in human populations due to the numerous variables introduced by
human behavior. The rhesus macaque infected with simian immunodeficiency virus has served as an invaluable model for
understanding HIV disease and transmission, and thus, provides an ideal model to evaluate the effects of chronic alcohol
use on viral infection and disease progression in a controlled environment. In this review, we describe the different
macaque models of chronic alcohol consumption and summarize the studies conducted with SIV and alcohol.
Collectively, they have shown that chronic alcohol consumption results in higher levels of plasma virus and alterations in
immune cell populations that potentiate SIV replication. They also demonstrate a significant impact of chronic alcohol use
on SIV-disease progression and survival. These studies highlight the utility of the rhesus macaque in deciphering the
biological effects of alcohol on HIV disease. Future studies with this well-established model will address the biological
influence of alcohol use on susceptibility to HIV, as well as the efficacy of anti-retroviral therapy.
Keywords: AIDS, animal models, chronic binge drinking, ethanol, rhesus macaque, simian immunodeficiency virus, virology.
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