Background Hazardous alcohol consumption (HAC) and recreational drug (RD) use are associated with risky sexual behaviour but there is little hard evidence about actual sexually transmitted infection (STI) acquisition in these cohorts.
Aim To investigate the association between HAC, RD use, risky sexual behaviour and STI acquisition.
Methods Patients self-completed the Fast Alcohol Screening Test (FAST), a validated screening tool to identify HAC, and questions on RD use. Markers of sexual risk-taking and STI diagnoses were obtained from patient records. Three cohorts: those with/without HAC (ie FAST positive/ negative respectively), RD use ever/never and recent/no recent RD use were analysed. Statistical significance (p<0.05) was calculated using Pearson's χ2 test.
Results Convenience sampling identified 221 new/re-book patients, 21 were excluded due to administrative errors. Respondents included 70 (35%) men and 130 (65%) women (age range, 15–69 years; median 25. 105 (53.6%) and 91(46.4) identified as FAST positive and FAST negative, 85 (43.6%) and 110 (56.4%) reported RD use ever and never and 33 (16.8%) and 163 (83.2%) reported RD use and no RD use in the last 1/12 respectively. 67/102 FAST positives reported a new sexual partner in the previous 3/12 compared to 29/88 FAST negatives (p<0.001). Recent RD users were also more likely to report partner change (23/32 compared to those with no recent RD (75/159, p=0.011). There was an increase in STI diagnoses in FAST positive compared to FAST negative patients (34/105 and 17/91 p=0.029), no difference was observed in the other cohorts.
Discussion HAC is very common among our patients and appears to be linked to increased STI acquisition. Recent RD use is not uncommon. Our findings support the recommendations of the recent Alcohol and Sexual Health Working Party that identification of hazardous drinkers and brief interventions may improve sexual health outcomes.