Study: Excessive drinking can lead to unsafe sex

A new report published in the journal Addiction adds support to a notion that many people already hold – drinking alcohol increases one's risk of participating in unsafe sex. The researchers found evidence that the more one drinks, the higher their likelihood of forgoing condoms and other STD prevention methods.

Though the link between alcohol and unsafe sex has long been part of the public consciousness, some had been questioning the cause-and-effect relationship between drinking and the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Some speculated that those who were drawn to excessive drinking were also, by the nature of their personality, more likely to engage in risky sexual activity.

The new report analyzed 12 experiments that have examined the link between alcohol and HIV transmission. In their conclusion, researchers argued that alcohol does impair one's ability to make healthy decisions, and the more alcohol individuals consumed, the more likely they were to have sex without a condom.

"Drinking has a casual effect on the likelihood to engage in unsafe sex, and thus should be included as a major factor in preventative efforts for HIV," said Principal Investigator of the study Dr. J. Rehm. "This result also helps explain why people at risk often show this behavior despite better knowledge: alcohol is influencing their decision processes."

Wearing a condom every time one engages in sex, whether or not they have been drinking, is an effective way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. While abstaining from alcohol may not be possible for everyone, committing to using condoms during all sexual encounters is an attainable goal.

This latest study will hopefully lend support to HIV prevention initiatives. The study suggests that it may be wise to not only encourage safe sex, but to also strive to curb excessive alcohol consumption.

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