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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Frequency of Alcohol Use in Adolescence as a Marker for Subsequent Sexual Risk Behavior in Adulthood

Although a number of studies have demonstrated an association between alcohol use frequency and sexual risk behavior, few have used longitudinal data. This study examined alcohol use frequency in adolescence as a predictor of HIV sexual risk behavior in adulthood.

We collected data among 1,368 participants in Colorado. During adolescence (time 1), respondents were asked about the frequency of using alcohol during the previous 12 months. In adulthood (time 2), the same respondents were asked about their sexual risk behavior during the previous 12 months. Sexual risk behavior items were used to construct an index, which was categorized to indicate low-, medium-, and high-risk study participants. The relationship between alcohol use patterns and risky sexual behavior was modeled using ordinal regression.

Compared with individuals who drank no alcohol in the past 12 months at time 1, the odds of being in a higher risk group of sexual behavior as opposed to a lower one at time 2 were 1.56 (95% CI, 1.04–2.35) among those who drank 6–19 times. Similarly, the odds of being in a higher risk group relative to a lower one among those who drank ≥20 times or were 1.78 (95% CI, 1.05–3.02).

Alcohol use patterns in adolescence may be useful markers for programs that aim to prevent risky sexual behavior. Based on alcohol intake patterns, it may be possible to identify frequent alcohol users that need to be targeted with appropriate alcohol use and HIV risk reduction messages.

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