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Binge-drinkers "need free condoms"

Health experts claim that the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) will fall if condoms are given away free in pubs to binge-drinkers.

And researchers said that Britain's drinking culture is also contributing to a rise in the number of women experiencing unwanted pregnancies.

A study of 520 people at one genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic found that 86% drank up to four times more than the six units of alcohol which is defined as binge-drinking.

Around 32% of those polled thought that drinking played a role in their clinic attendance, while 19% of the women who were questioned reported an unwanted pregnancy, with a further third admitting they had drunk before having unprotected sex.

The authors of the research, which has been published in the International Journal of STD and Aids (IJSA), said that condoms, although freely available from GPs and family planning/GU medicine services, need to be given away in the places where people require them the most, such as pubs and clubs.

Linda Tucker, one of the main authors of the study and a consultant nurse in sexual health and HIV in Portsmouth, said: "The link between sexual risk and drinking too much alcohol is not the most original idea in the world, but we now have clear scientific evidence of the relationship.

"Politicians need to tackle the issue of cheap booze and to have properly funded early intervention and treatment programmes in place."

International Journal of STD and Aids

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