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Brief Intervention on HIV and Alcohol Risk Encourages Safer Sex

Researchers have found that a single counseling intervention that includes an exploration of the risk of alcohol use in sexual contexts may have an impact on HIV// prevention by reducing sexual risk behaviours. The study is published in the April 15th edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. Considerable evidence exists that alcohol use contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV.

In townships in Cape Town, South Africa, which are heavily affected by HIV, more than 85% of the places where people meet new sex partners serve alcohol.

“In Cape Town, 42% of men and 12% of women receiving STI clinic services report drinking before sex, and the rate of alcohol use before sex jumps to 61% among STI clinic patients who are problem drinkers”, notes Seth Kalichman, from the University of Connecticut, USA, who conducted the study.

In order to focus on the link between alcohol, STIs, and HIV, the US and South African team of researchers sought to study the impact on sexual risk behaviours and alcohol use of a single brief counseling intervention surrounding HIV and alcohol.

In a randomised, controlled trial, 143 attendees at an STI clinic in Cape Town who used alcohol were given a 60-minute experimental counseling session that focused on HIV and alcohol risk, or a 20-minute educational control intervention, consisting of HIV information alone.

The 60-minute intervention included the informational component of the control condition, plus a motivational component based on the World Health Organization's brief alcohol counseling model, and finally a skills-building component focused on behavioral self-management and sexual communication.

Baseline information was collected by audio computer-assisted interviewing. Follow-up sessions were conducted at three and six months after the intervention or control condition. Participants were questioned ab
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