Alcohol abuse as a risk factor in HIV infections in Kiambu county, central Kenya
The study concerned itself with the perceptions of alcohol abuse as a risk factor in HIV infections in Kiambu County, central Kenya. The study centred on two specific objectives; the first one was to assess the association between HIV infections and alcohol abuse in Kiambu County and the second examined the sexual behaviours of alcohol abusers in Kiambu County. The study was guided by the social exchange theory that postulates that people weigh potential benefits and risks of social relationships and when the risks outweigh the rewards, people may terminate or abandon such relationships. Quantitative and qualitative research methods, especially, the survey, focus group discussions and case studies were used to collect the data. Quantitative data were analysed using the SPSS computer software programme and the presentation was then done in the form of figures and tables. Qualitative data were analysed thematically and interpreted on the basis of the study objectives and verbatim reporting was used to present some of the opinions of the qualitative findings. A majority of alcohol abusers associated alcohol with risky sexual behaviours such as multiple partners, casual sex, having sex while drunk and having sex without the use of condoms. Therefore, alcohol abuse was seen as a risk factor in HIV infections. Others admitted that alcohol made them make poor judgments and, thus, putting them at a risk of contracting HIV. However, some attributed alcohol abuse to low libido, therefore, they did not engage in sexual intercourse. The study, therefore, recommends an open dialogue in order to develop appropriate, responsive and sustainable policies and the need for health education among alcohol abusers to bring about behavioural change. The study also recommends that the emerging trends of male-to-male rape and poor sexual performance among alcohol abusers be investigated. The study proposes similar studies to be conducted in other parts of the country since the study focused on Kiambu County yet the problem of alcohol abuse is rampant in other counties. Such studies should give more insights into alcohol abuse as a risk factor in HIV infections in order to come up with a lasting solution.