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United Kingdom: Doctors Call for Free Condoms in Pubs and Taxis to Protect Against Sexual Diseases

December 20, 2007

Results from a major study examining the sexual risks involved in drinking alcohol suggest that condoms should be made more accessible to young people in order to protect them against STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

The study authors interviewed 520 men and women who had visited a genitourinary (GU) clinic over a two-month period in a large city in southern England. They found that 86 percent consumed more than the six units of alcohol in one session, the government's definition of binge drinking, and often drank considerably more.

The most usual consumption was 26 units on a typical Friday or Saturday night, equivalent to two and a half bottles of wine or more than three-quarters of a bottle of vodka per person.

Seventy-seven percent had been drinking prior to having sex with a new partner. Of those, 65 percent admitted they were usually or occasionally very drunk. About of third of the participants thought they had contracted an STD as a result of sex during drinking binges.

Among the group, 76 percent of women had had unprotected sex as a result of drinking. The women who binged most heavily reported more unwanted pregnancies.

"We believe that this study demonstrates a clear indication that national public health strategies related to sexual health, sexual behavior, unintended pregnancy, and sexual assault in the UK need to be focused on both sexual and alcohol risks," the authors said.

Professor Wallace Dinsmore, editor of the journal that published the study, said: "The young people interviewed in this study frequently said that better access to condoms at the time and place they were needed would have enabled them to practice safer sex. Young people can get free condoms from their [general practitioners], family planning and GU clinics, but it might make more sense to give condoms away in pubs, clubs, and taxis."

The study, "Binge Drinking, Sexual Behavior and Sexually Transmitted Infection in the UK," was published in the International Journal of STD & AIDS (2007;18(12):810-813).

Back to other news for December 2007

Adapted from:
The Guardian (London)
12.18.2007; Sarah Boseley

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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