Researchers analyzed long-term follow-up data on gay men from a large study of HIV risk factors. All men were HIV-negative at the beginning of the study. Using special statistical weighting techniques, scholars analyzed the joint effects of alcohol consumption and sexual behavior on the risk of acquiring HIV (seroconversion) during follow-up. Findings show that for men who have sex with men (MSM), heavy drinking may lead to an increased risk of acquiring HIV.
Overall, 529 cases of HIV seroconversion were identified during follow-up. Thirty percent of the men reported having unprotected sex with multiple partners in the two years before the study.
Risk is especially high for men who are heavy drinkers and have multiple partners, suggests the study by Stephen R. Cole, PhD, of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and colleagues. They write, "These findings suggest that alcohol interventions to reduce heavy drinking among MSM should be integrated into existing HIV prevention activities."