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Int J STD AIDS. 2010 Jan;21(1):2-7. doi: 10.1258/ijsa.2000.009432.

Causal links between binge drinking patterns, unsafe sex and HIV in South Africa: its time to intervene.

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Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.


South Africa has a massive burden of HIV and alcohol disease, and these pandemics are inextricably linked. Much evidence indicates that alcohol independently influences decisions around sex, and undermines skills for condom negotiation and correct use. Thus, not surprisingly, people with problem drinking in Africa have twofold higher risk for HIV than non-drinkers. Also, sexual violence incidents often coincide with heavy alcohol use, both among perpetrators and victims. Reducing alcohol harms necessitates both population- and individual-level interventions, especially raised taxation, regulation of alcohol advertising and provision of Brief Interventions. Alcohol counselling interventions must include discussion of linkages between alcohol and sex, and consequences thereof. Within positive-prevention services, alcohol reduction interventions could diminish HIV transmission. A trial is needed to definitively demonstrate that reduced drinking lowers HIV incidence. However, given available evidence, implementation of effective interventions could alleviate much alcohol-attributable disease, including unsafe sex, sexual violence, unintended pregnancy and, likely, HIV transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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