HIV-risk behaviors and social support among men and women attending alcohol-serving venues in South Africa: Implications for HIV prevention
Alcohol use is associated with increased HIV-risk behaviors, including unprotected sex and number of sex partners. Alcohol-serving venues can be places to engage in HIV-related sexual risk behaviors, but are also important sites of social support for patrons, which may mitigate risks. We sought to examine the relationship between alcohol-serving venue attendance, social support, and HIV-related sexual risk behavior, by gender, in South Africa. Adult patrons (n = 496) were recruited from six alcohol-serving venues and completed surveys assessing frequency of venue attendance, venue-based social support, and recent sexual behaviors. Generalized estimating equations tested associations between daily venue attendance, social support, and sexual behaviors, separately by gender. Interaction effects between daily attendance and social support were assessed. Models were adjusted for venue, age, education, and ethnicity. Daily attendance at venues was similar across genders and was associated with HIV-related risk behaviors, but the strength and direction of associations differed by gender. Among women, daily attendance was associated with greater number of partners and higher proportion of unprotected sex. Social support was a significant moderator, with more support decreasing the strength of the relationship between attendance and risk. Among men, daily attendance was associated with a lower proportion of unprotected sex; no interaction effects were found for attendance and social support. Frequent venue attendance is associated with additional HIV-related risks for women, but this risk is mitigated by social support in venues. These results were not seen for men. Successful HIV interventions in alcohol-serving venues should address the gendered context of social support and sexual risk behavior.