January 7, 2009
Binge Drinking Raises HIV Risk in New York
New Yorkers who consume five or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion at least once a month are more likely than moderate drinkers to contract HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, Crain’s New York Business reports.
According to a new report released by the city’s health department, binge drinkers are 50 percent more likely than non-binge drinkers and three times as likely as non-drinkers to report having two to four sexual partners in the past year. Alcohol was also found to loosen sexual inhibitions and increase risky sexual behavior more than other drugs since it is legal and more commonly used.
“There’s a wide body of evidence that shows the use of alcohol can lead to lowered inhibitions and impaired judgment,” said Sean Cahill, managing director of public policy, research and community health at New York AIDS service organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis. “There’s been a lot of emphasis in the media on crystal meth as a problem connected with HIV-risk behavior. [But] people forget about this legal substance that people can abuse.”
The study also showed that HIV risk associated with binge drinking was particularly high among men who have sex with men (MSM). Of the 24 percent of MSM respondents who said they binge drink at least once a month, 40 percent reported having five or more sex partners in the past year, compared with 21 percent for non-binge drinking MSM.
In addition, the city’s report—titled “Alcohol Use and Risky Sex in New York City”—showed an increased relationship between teen binge drinking and unsafe sex. Only 60 percent of teens who had used drugs or alcohol before having sex reported using condoms compared with 72 percent for their non-drinking peers.
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