-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking too much alcohol
can lead to unsafe sex, a new study confirms.
Unsafe sex is the most common cause of HIV infection and finding
ways to prevent unsafe sex is a major goal of public health efforts
to prevent HIV/AIDS.
Alcohol use has long been associated with HIV incidence.
However, it hasn't been clear whether unsafe sex associated with
alcohol use actually led to HIV infection, or whether certain
personality traits, such as sensation-seeking or risky behavior,
led to both alcohol use and unsafe sex.
In this study, researchers led by Jurgen Rehm, director of
social and epidemiological research at the Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health in Ontario, Canada, conducted 12 experiments that
tested this cause-and-effect relationship. They concluded that
alcohol affects decision-making and that this effect increases with
the amount of alcohol consumed.
The more alcohol the participants drank, the more willing they
were to engage in unsafe sex, the study authors said. For each 0.1
milligrams per milliliter increase in blood alcohol level, there
was a 5 percent increase in a participant's likelihood of having
The study is published in the January issue of the journal
"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," Rehm commented in a journal news release. "This result also helps explain why people at risk often show this behavior despite better knowledge: Alcohol is influencing their decision processes."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about
practicing safer sex at
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