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Gambling problems in substance abusers are associated with increased sexual risk behaviors

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Objectives. This study evaluated the association between gambling problems and HIV risk behaviors in substance abusers. Participants and setting. One hundred and thirty-four substance abusers were recruited from advertisements placed in newspapers and at social service agencies. Intervention. Gambling problems were assessed using the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). The Addiction Severity Index evaluated drug and psychosocial problems, and the HIV Risk Behavior Scale assessed risk behaviors. Findings. Based on SOGS scores, 24% (n = 31) of substance abusers evidenced probable pathological gambling. Problem gambling substance abusers were more likely to be male than non-problem gamblers, but no other differences in demographic characteristics or drug use variables were noted. Compared to non-problem gamblers, problem gamblers reported more sex partners and less frequent use of condoms with casual and paid sex partners. Stepwise logistic regression confirmed the association between severity of gambling problems and more risky sexual behaviors; higher SOGS scores predicted having more than 50 sex partners, exchanging sex for drugs/money, and engaging in anal intercourse (p < 0.05). Participants with gambling problems were also less knowledgeable about HIV transmission. Conclusions. These data suggest that gambling problems may be a risk factor for contracting HIV. Increased efforts are needed to screen for and treat gambling problems among substance abusers.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1360-0443.2000.957108910.x

Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2000

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