Alcohol Use and Sexual Risks for HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: Systematic Review of Empirical Findings
Alcohol consumption is associated with risks for sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV/AIDS. In this paper, we systematically review the literature on alcohol use and sexual risk behavior in southern Africa, the region of the world with the greatest HIV/AIDS burden. Studies show a consistent association between alcohol use and sexual risks for HIV infection. Among people who drink, greater quantities of alcohol consumption predict greater sexual risks than does frequency of drinking. In addition, there are clear gender differences in alcohol use and sexual risks; men are more likely to drink and engage in higher risk behavior whereas women's risks are often associated with their male sex partners' drinking. Factors that are most closely related to alcohol and sexual risks include drinking venues and alcohol serving establishments, sexual coercion, and poverty. Research conducted in southern Africa therefore confirms an association between alcohol use and sexual risks for HIV. Sexual risk reduction interventions are needed for men and women who drink and interventions should be targeted to alcohol serving establishments.