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Drink, illicit drugs and unsafe sex in women

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Aims. To establish the extent and nature of linkages between illicit drug and alcohol use and sexual behaviour in women. Participants and Setting. One hundred women attending either a Genitourinary Medicine Clinic or a Family Planning Clinic. Design. Respondents were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule covering the effect of drink/illicit drug use on the incidence of sex, on condom use, and on specific sexual activities, and deliberate use of drink/illicit drugs to affect sex. Interviews focused on the last three new male partners, from the beginning of the sexual relationship through its development. Data analysis was primarily qualitative, quantitative analysis was conducted where appropriate. Results. There were few cases in which women reported that consumption of drink/illicit drugs caused them to engage in sexual behaviour which they would not have engaged in if they had not had drink/drugs. Associations between drink and illicit drugs and sexual behaviour were, mainly, either because encounters took place in social situations where drugs or drink were being consumed or because the woman used drink or drugs instrumentally to engage in desired behaviours. There was some evidence to suggest that greater use of drugs and alcohol might be part of a wider pattern of social behaviour including more sexual partners. Conclusions. The women's self-reported behaviour suggested that illicit drug and alcohol use in itself did not usually result in unsafe or undesired sexual behaviour.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-08-01

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