Sex and the risk of HIV infection: the role of alcohol

RT MCEWAN, A MCCALLUM, RS BHOPAL, R MADHOK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To investigate sexual behaviour under the influence of alcohol and the relationship between drinking habits and unsafe sex we carried out a postal and interview survey of 2174 students in the North East of England. Drinking habits were classified as non, light, medium and heavy, and cross‐tabulated against sexual and other risk taking behaviour. Response rates of 74% and 77% were obtained in the postal and interview surveys respectively. In the postal survey, heavier drinkers were more likely to have unsafe sex such as casual sex without a condom, and sex with someone know to have many partners. Respondents associated alcohol with sexual risk taking; because of drinking too much, in the last year, 19% had not taken contraceptive precautions during sex. The interview survey largely confirmed postal survey results. There are three possible explanations of the association between drinking habits and unsafe sex: alcohol might disinhibit safer sex; young risk‐takers may also drink more; or, drinking might be associated with unsafe sex by coincidence because sexual encounters often begin in licensed premises. Drinking habits should therefore be a priority issue for future HIV/AIDS related research, policy debate, and health education endeavour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-584
JournalBRITISH JOURNAL OF ADDICTION
Volume87
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1992

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