Frequency of alcohol use and its association with STD/HIV-related risk practices, attitudes and knowledge among an African-American community-recruited sample

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The aim was to determine the association between frequency of alcohol use in the past 30 days and HIV-related risk behaviours among adults in an African-American community.

Data were collected by trained street outreach workers, from 522 persons in 4 areas selected on the basis of 7 health and criminal justice indicators of high risk for HIV, STD and substance abuse, and drug-related arrests. A survey assessed demographics, substance use, sexual behaviour, HIV knowledge, attitudes and depression.

Subjects reporting using drugs other than alcohol (n=201) were excluded from analyses to avoid the confounding influence of polysubstance use. Of the remaining 321 subjects (mean age=37.1; 58.5% were male), 43.6% reported no alcohol use in the past 30 days, with 37.4% and 19.0%, respectively, having used alcohol <=15 days and =>16 days in the past 30 days. Alcohol use frequency (no alcohol, 1-15 days, 16-30 days in past month) was significantly associated with being male, STD history, non-use of condoms, higher perceived risk of HIV, lower condom use self-efficacy, multiple sex partners in the past 30 days, and lower HIV-related knowledge.

Frequent alcohol use, in the absence of other drugs, is associated with higher levels of HIV risk behaviours. Though an underserved population with respect to HIV prevention and, given the prevalence of alcohol use, the findings suggest that programmes need to target frequent alcohol users to reduce their HIV-associated risk behaviours and enhance HIV risk-reduction knowledge and attitudes associated with the adoption of HIV prevention practices.

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