A randomized controlled trial of a brief intervention to reduce alcohol use among female sex workers in Mombasa, Kenya

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 Dec 1;67(4):446-53. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000335.


Objective: We assessed whether a brief alcohol intervention would lead to reduced alcohol use and sexually transmitted infection (STI)/HIV incidence and related sexual risk behaviors among moderate drinking female sex workers.

Methods: A randomized controlled intervention trial was conducted with 818 female sex workers affiliated with the AIDS, Population, Health, and Integrated Assistance II project in Mombasa, Kenya. Eligible women were hazardous or harmful drinkers who scored between 7 and 19 (full range, 1-40) on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Intervention participants received 6 counseling sessions approximately monthly. The equal-attention control group received 6 nutrition sessions. Participants were followed for 6 and 12 months after the intervention, with at least 86% retention at both time points. We used general linear models in intention-to-treat analyses, adjusting for recruitment setting and HIV status at enrollment.

Results: There was a statistically significant reduction in alcohol use and binge drinking at 6 and 12 months, with intervention participants reporting less than one third of the odds of higher levels of drinking than the control group. The intervention did not impact laboratory-confirmed STI/HIV incidence, self-reported condom use, or sexual violence from nonpaying partners. However, the odds of reporting sexual violence from clients was significantly lower among intervention than control participants at both 6 and 12 months.

Conclusions: We found that a brief alcohol intervention can reduce self-reported alcohol consumption among a nondependent and non-treatment-seeking population most at risk for HIV. More attention is needed to understand the pathway from drinking to sexual behavior and STI/HIV acquisition.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Binge Drinking / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivational Interviewing / methods*
  • Sex Workers / psychology
  • Sex Workers / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult