The relationship between recent alcohol use and sexual behaviors: Gender differences among sexually transmitted disease clinic patients

Heidi E. Hutton, Mary E. McCaul, Patricia B. Santora, Emily J. Erbelding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Binge drinking is associated with risky sexual behaviors and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Few studies have investigated this by gender or in an STD clinic. This cross-sectional study examined the association between binge drinking and risky sexual behaviors/STDs among patients attending an urban STD clinic. Method: A total of 671 STD clinic patients were tested for STDs, and queried about recent alcohol/drug use and risky sexual behaviors using audio computer-assisted-self-interview. The association between binge drinking and sexual behaviors/STDs was analyzed using logistic regression adjusting for age, employment, and drug use. Results: Binge drinking was reported by 30% of women and 42% of men. Gender differences were found in rates of receptive anal sex which increased linearly with increased alcohol use among women but did not differ among men. Within gender analyses showed that women binge drinkers engaged in anal sex at more than twice the rate of women who drank alcohol without binges (33.3% vs. 15.9%; p < 0.05) and 3 times the rate of women who abstained from alcohol (11.1%; p < 0.05). Having multiple sex partners was more than twice as common among women binge drinkers than women abstainers (40.5% vs. 16.8%; p < 0.05). Gonorrhea was nearly 5 times higher among women binge drinkers compared to women abstainers (10.6% vs. 2.2%; p < 0.05). The association between binge drinking and sexual behaviors/gonorrhea remained after controlling for drug use. Among men, rates of risky sexual behaviors/STDs were high, but did not differ by alcohol use. Conclusion: Rates of binge drinking among STD clinic patients were high. Among women, binge drinking was uniquely associated with risky sexual behaviors and an STD diagnosis. Our findings support the need to routinely screen for binge drinking as part of clinical care in STD clinics. Women binge drinkers, in particular, may benefit from interventions that jointly address binge drinking and risky sexual behaviors. Developing gender-specific interventions could improve overall health outcomes in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2008-2015
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume32
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2008

Keywords

  • Binge drinking
  • Gender differences
  • Hazardous alcohol use
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • STDs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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