Objective/goal: The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of published literature on the association between problematic alcohol consumption and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Design: Using a MEDLINE search (1995-2003) and article references, we identified articles that described measures of alcohol consumption and STDs and presented data on their association. For each eligible study, we classified the alcohol consumption measure as specific (problem drinking) or general, and examined study designs, study populations, STD measures, and results.
Results: Of 42 eligible studies, 11 included specific measures of problem drinking, of which 8 found a significant association between alcohol consumption and at least 1 STD. The relationship did not appear to vary according to gender or pattern of alcohol consumption assessed.
Conclusions: The literature supports an overall association between problematic alcohol consumption and STDs, although their causal relationship cannot be determined with certainty from these observational studies. The findings have implications for prevention planners, clinicians, and individual patients at risk of STDs.