A Geographic Relation Between Alcohol Availability and Gonorrhea Rates

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Background and Objectives:

The availability of alcohol measured as alcohol outlet density is associated with numerous alcohol-related outcomes in small area analysis. A number of studies suggest that high-risk sexual behavior should also be considered an alcohol-related outcome.

Goal of this Study:

To assess the geographic relationship between alcohol availability and high-risk sexual behavior at the neighborhood level.

Study Design:

Ecological analysis of the geographic relation between off-premise, on-premise, and total alcohol outlet density and reported gonorrhea rates among 155 urban residential census tracts in New Orleans during 1995.


All alcohol outlet density variables were positively related to gonorrhea rates. Off-premise outlets per square mile was most strongly related to gonorrhea rates (β ± SE) (β = 0.582 ± 0.073), accounting for 29% of the variance in gonorrhea rates. Interpreted as an elasticity, a 10% increase in off-sale alcohol outlet density accounts for a 5.8% increase in gonorrhea rates. Including the covariates percent black and percent unemployed to the model reduced but did not remove the effect of off-sale outlet density (β = 0.192 ± 0.047).


These results indicate there is a geographic relationship between alcohol outlet density and gonorrhea rates at the census tract level. Although these results cannot be interpreted causally, they do justify a public health intervention as a next step in defining the relation between alcohol availability and high-risk sexual behavior.

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