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Alcohol Leads to Unsafe Sex and HIV, Confirms Addiction Study

Tim Boyer's picture
Alcoholic beverages

(EmaxHealth) - The more you drink alcohol, the less you think. The less you think, the more likely you are to engage in unsafe sex. That is the result of a recent study that determined alcohol consumption is the number one factor that leads to unsafe sex and HIV infection. While the announcement may seem obvious, it was not clear whether drinking alcohol or individual personality traits were the primary factors in a direct cause and effect relationship relating to the constant HIV infection rates in the U.S. and U.K. Researchers believe that addressing the problem of heavy drinking will in turn reduce the incidence of newly acquired HIV infections in the U.S. and the U.K.

In the soon to be published January issue of the scientific journal Addiction, researchers announce their recent findings that concretely link alcohol abuse with HIV infection over other mitigating factors such as personality types. Their study addressed the doubts of whether heavy drinking played a direct cause and effect relationship with the incidence of HIV infections—especially in higher income countries like the United States and the United Kingdom—where HIV rates have remained fairly constant in spite of public education through HIV awareness programs.

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Their study consisted of 12 experiments geared to test the cause and effect relationship HIV infection shares with a variety of potential mitigating factors. The more notable experiment was one in which participants in the study were chosen randomly and then divided into drinking and non-drinking groups. When the participants were evaluated for their intention to take part in unsafe sex, the researchers found that an increase in a blood alcohol level of 0.1 mg/ml resulted in a 5.0 percent increase in the likelihood that the person would have unprotected sex.

According to a statement made in a press release, Dr. J. Rehm, the lead investigator of the study says that, “Drinking has a causal effect on the likelihood to engage in unsafe sex, and thus should be included as a major factor in preventive efforts for HIV. This result also helps explain why people at risk often show this behavior despite better knowledge: alcohol is influencing their decision processes.”

The researchers of the study believe that HIV/AIDS programs should include efforts to reduce alcohol abuse as a measure to counter the rise in future HIV infections.

Reference: Addiction 107, 51-9, Alcohol consumption and the intention to engage in unprotected sex: Systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental studies.
Image source of Alcoholic Beverages: Wikipedia