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Keywords:

  • High Risk Behaviors;
  • Alcohol Dependence;
  • Risky Sexual Behavior

Background:  Heavy drinking is associated with an increased number of sexual partners. This study examined the extent to which alcohol dependence and conduct disorder are associated with the number of sexual partners and membership in a risk group of having a high number of sexual partners (10 or more).

Methods:  Data were obtained by personal interview from 601 relatives (aged 18 to 25 years) of alcohol-dependent probands who participated in the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) project. Analyses examined the independent contribution of problem drinking (defined as having at least one symptom of DSM-IV alcohol dependence) and alcohol dependence, some conduct problems (defined as having at least one symptom of DSM-IV conduct disorder), conduct disorder, family status (defined as whether participant lived with both biological parents during childhood), educational attainment, gender, race, age at first intercourse, and age at time of interview to the number of sexual partners and to having 10 or more sexual partners.

Results:  After controlling for other variables, alcohol dependence, problem drinking, race, age at first intercourse, and age at time of interview were significantly associated with number of sexual partners. The risk for having 10 or more sexual partners rose substantially for those who were alcohol dependent (OR = 2.5, 1.3–4.5, p = 0.004) and those with conduct disorder (OR = 1.8, 1.0–3.3, p = 0.041) after controlling for other variables. There is also a trend toward problem drinking and some conduct problems being associated with the risk of having 10 or more sexual partners though this did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions:  These analyses demonstrate that alcohol-dependent individuals and those with conduct disorder are at risk for increased number of sexual partners (10 or more). Sexually transmitted disease prevention efforts should target individuals with these two conditions to help decrease high risk sexual behaviors.