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27 November 2007
Surprise, Surprise; Alcohol Use Linked To Number Of Sexual Partners
by George Atkinson

A new study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has linked the diagnoses of alcohol dependence and conduct disorder among 18-to-25-year-olds to the risk of having a high number of sexual partners.

The researchers gathered data through personal interviews from more then 600 individuals who participated in the Collaborative Study on The Genetics of Alcoholism. "Our study is the first of its kind to link problematic drinking and alcohol dependence with a high number of sex partners," said Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, co-author for the study. "We have moved beyond self-reports of heavy and/or frequent drinking to utilizing a clinical diagnosis of alcohol dependence in order to improve understanding of how alcohol use influences risky sexual behaviors."

"A significant number of participants with alcohol dependence, 45 percent, had 10 or more sexual partners," said Cavazos-Rehg. "Moreover, we categorized individuals into three levels of alcohol involvement - non-dependent, problem drinking, alcohol dependent - and demonstrated how a stepwise increase from non-dependence to problematic alcohol use to alcohol dependence was associated with a higher rate of sexual partners."

"These young adults with alcohol dependence and conduct problems are likely to have many sexual partners," said co-researcher Denise Hallfors. "This suggests that they are not only at greater risk for STDs and HIV, but if infected, they are likely to infect many others."

According to Hallfors, college campuses could do more to help address the problem. "Students are frequently referred to the campus health clinic for alcohol-related problems," she said. "Young adults who are running into problems because of their heavy drinking... should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases and treated if infected. Furthermore, college health care staff could greatly improve care by asking about sexual risk behaviors and screening for STDs. Furthermore, STD prevention programs and clinics can better understand the role of alcohol dependence and conduct disorder as part of a comprehensive strategy for reducing STD transmission."

Related articles:
Holidays Abroad Lead To Risky Sex And STDs

Source: Washington University in St. Louis




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