The arrival of a new baby can be one of the happiest experiences in a mother’s life, but that joy can turn to tragedy if the mother has been drinking. Alcohol in a pregnant mother’s bloodstream can have serious health consequences for the fetus that can last for the rest of the child’s life. This is known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It is vitally important for pregnant women to understand the risks before they consider taking a single sip of alcohol. Read more
The epidemics of HIV and alcoholism are both serious and widespread public health concerns in the United States. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 4.4 percent of the American population has become chemically dependent on alcohol. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control report that more than 1.2 million Americans are currently infected with HIV. While everyone understands the severity of these issues, rarely do we acknowledge the impact that one has on the other. In order to understand the full threat of alcoholism, it’s important to recognize the risks that it carries for HIV infection.
Drinkers are more at risk of HIV
People who drink alcohol are more likely to find themselves in situations where HIV infection can result. Going to bars and other drinking establishments puts drinkers in situations where unprotected sex with multiple partners typically occurs. Bars are popular social settings for sex partners to meet and pair up. Regulars at bars often form “sexual networks” where members have sex with multiple other members. As a result, people who drink alcohol are four times more likely to have multiple sexual partners than nondrinkers.
Sex with multiple partners puts people at a higher risk of HIV exposure. When one person in a sexual network becomes infected, the rest of the network becomes exposed. The link between drinking and promiscuous behavior puts drinkers at a higher risk of being exposed to HIV. In fact, studies show that alcohol consumption is widespread in nearly every demographic that is at a high risk of HIV infection.
Alcohol can cause HIV exposure
While drinkers are at an increased risk of HIV exposure, alcohol itself does not play a passive role. Like many other drugs, alcohol affects human behavior by impairing judgment and loosening inhibitions. Inebriated people are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, one-night stands and other sexual activities that they would not normally do while sober. Alcohol can even be used as a tool of sexual coercion, particularly against women. By impairing judgment, alcohol can put drinkers in danger of HIV infection.
Alcoholics are the most susceptible to behaviors that increase their likelihood of infection. Addicts who lack the funds to purchase alcohol can become prone to performing sexual favors for drinks. Alcoholics are also twice as likely to become addicted to heroin, which spreads HIV and AIDS through needle sharing. When people become addicted, their first priority is always appeasing their addiction, with safety coming at a distant second.
If you or someone you know has become addicted to alcohol, it is vital to get treatment as quickly as possible before permanent harm can result. The Alcohol Addiction Get Help Helpline is a 24/7 resource to connect you with effective treatment programs and therapies. Call 866-281-3014 to find an addiction specialist waiting to talk to you.
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