Consuming alcohol is now directly linked to having unsafe sex, according a study published in the January issue of the journal Addiction.
"In other words, the more you drink, the stronger becomes your intention to engage in unsafe sex," editors wrote in a summary published on the journal's website.
Researchers said unprotected sex is the most important pathway to HIV infection and therefore this research about the impact of alcohol should be included in HIV prevention materials.
The study examined the results of 12 experiments that tested the cause-and-effect relationship between unsafe sex and alcohol consumption, the journal's editors wrote. An increase in blood alcohol level of 0.1 mg/mL resulted in a 5% increase in the likelihood of engaging in unprotected sex, the study concluded.
"This result also helps explain why people at risk often show this behaviour despite better knowledge: alcohol is influencing their decision processes ," said Dr. J. Rehm, the study's Principal Investigator.