Episodic heavy drinking among men who have sex with men in the context of HIV, in Ceará, Brazil
Background: Episodic heavy drinking has been associated with risk behavior in the population of men who have sex with men (MSM). No previous studies of this behavior have been conducted in Brazil in this population.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study of men reporting oral or anal sex with other men in the previous six months. Five hundred and ninety eight subjects from three different socio-cultural settings from Ceará, located in northeast Brazil, were interviewed face-to-face. Univariate and multivariate analyses were carried out to evaluate risk factors associated with episodic heavy drinking.
Results: 73% of the MSM participants were classified as risky drinkers, a percentage much higher than the general male population in Brazil and reported in gay studies elsewhere. The predictors for risky drinking were: age, 30 or older vs. <21 years old (OR: 1.7; 95%CI: 1.3-2.2); race, being black vs. white (OR: 3.1; 95%CI: 2.3-4.2); being mulatto vs. white (OR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.2-3.1); knowledge about HIV (OR: 0.6; 95% CI: 0.5-0.7); offered money for sex (OR: 1.4; 95% CI: 1.0-1.8); using vs. not using any illicit drug (OR: 4.7; 95%CI: 3.8-5.8).
Conclusions: There was no reported increase in risky sexual practices with episodic heavy drinking although one third of the gays admitted to have engaged in risky sex under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The findings of this study show that alcohol abuse is a public health problem among the gay population; in-depth and qualitative studies for the development of more effective preventive measures in the HIV context are necessary.
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