Cheap Beer and STDs

CDC Says Cheap Prices Have a Direct Effect

Beer Drinkers
Cheap Beer Causes Multiple Problems. © Getty Images

Cheap beer prices may a have direct effect on increases in sexually transmitted disease (STD) among young people, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Everytime beer taxes go up or the legal drinking age is raised, gonorrhea rates usually dropped among young people, according to Alcohol Policy and Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates --United States, 1981--1995 published April 28, 2000 by the CDC.

High Risk Behavior

The report says raising the tax on a six-pack of beer by only 20 cents could reduce gonorrhea by up to nine percent among young adults, who are more likely to develop STDs than older adults.

According to the report, young persons who drink alcohol may be more likely than persons who abstain to participate in high-risk sexual activity, such as unprotected sexual intercourse or multiple sexual partners.

Risky Sexual Behavior

If alcohol consumption promotes risky sexual behavior (disinhibition caused by the effects of alcohol), state government alcohol policies, such as alcohol taxation and minimum legal drinking age requirements, might reduce STD incidence among adolescents and young adults.

Higher alcohol taxes and increases in the minimum legal drinking age have been associated with lower incidences of adverse alcohol-related health outcomes (e.g., motor-vehicle crash-related deaths, liver cirrhosis, suicide, and violent crime, including domestic violence).

Lower Gonorrhea Rates

The study examined the association between gonorrhea rates and alcohol policy indicators -- alcohol taxation and drinking age requirements -- in the 50 states and the District of Columbia during 1981-1995.

Most state beer tax increases were followed by a relative proportionate decrease in gonorrhea rates among young adults during the time period.

This relation was greater for gonorrhea rates among men than women.

Reducing Alcohol Use

Most minimum legal drinking age increases were followed by a relative proportionate decrease in the gonorrhea rate, and this majority was significant among 15-19-year-olds but not among 20-24-year-olds, who would have been less effected by the changes in the law.

Reducing alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among young persons are two national health objectives the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2010 Conference. Higher alcohol prices and improved enforcement of minimum legal drinking age requirements have been highlighted as potential strategies to reduce alcohol consumption by youth.

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