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Excessive alcohol use and its association with risky sexual behaviour: a cross-sectional analysis of data from Victorian secondary school students

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Correspondence to: Mr. Paul A. Agius, Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute, GPO Box 2284, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001; e-mail: pagius@burnet.edu.au

Abstract

Objective : Estimate the prevalence of sexual behaviour and alcohol use and examine the association between excessive alcohol use and risky sexual behaviour in late secondary students in Victoria, Australia.

Method: The sample of Year 11 students from government and independent schools participating in the 2008 International Youth Development Study (n=450) was representative of the Victorian school population. Logistic regression analyses examined the associations between sexual behaviour, binge and compulsive drinking, adjusting for socio-demographic, school and family factors.

Results: Under half (44%) the students had experienced sex in the past year, half (50%) had engaged in binge drinking in the past two weeks and 26% reported compulsive drinking in the past year. Of those who reported sex in the past year (n=197), 34% had sex without a condom at the last sexual encounter and 28% later regretted sex due to alcohol. The likelihood of experiencing sex was increased by binge (OR=2.44, 95%CI 1.44–4.12) and compulsive drinking (OR=2.15, 95%CI 1.29–3.60). For those sexually active, binge drinking increased the risk of having three or more sexual partners (OR=3.37, 95%CI 1.11–10.26) and compulsive drinking increased the likelihood of regretted sex due to alcohol (OR=4.43, 95%CI 2.10–9.31). Excessive drinking was not associated with condom non-use.

Conclusion and implications: Risky sex – multiple sexual partners and regretted sex due to alcohol – and excessive drinking are highly prevalent and co-associated among Victorian late secondary students.

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