Study: Raising Taxes on Booze Can Decrease STD Rates

In fact, it can be as effective as condom distribution in fighting gonorrhea
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2015 4:15 PM CST
Study: Raising Taxes on Booze Can Decrease STD Rates
A new study found raising taxes on alcohol can be as effective as distributing condoms when it comes to preventing gonorrhea.   (Bret Hartman /AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)

Don't like wearing condoms during risky sex? Best start lobbying your local lawmakers to increase the sales tax on alcohol. A study out of the University of Florida and published Wednesday in the Journal of Preventative Medicine found a correlation between gonorrhea rates and the price of alcohol. According to a press release, Maryland raised its alcohol sales tax from 6% to 9% in 2011. Gonorrhea rates dropped 24% in the 18 months afterward, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. "If policymakers are looking for methods to protect young people from harmful STIs, they should consider raising alcohol taxes, which have decreased remarkably over the years due to inflation," lead researcher Stephanie Staras, says in the press release.

The study compared rates of gonorrhea across states before and after Maryland's tax increase on alcohol. It found 1,600 fewer cases of gonorrhea per year in Maryland after the increase. The Sun Sentinel reports Maryland was the exception as STI rates rose around the country. Researchers concluded higher taxes on alcohol reduce the amount of alcohol consumption within a state, and people who are drinking less are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors. "Right now, the only population-level intervention for STIs recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is condom distribution," Staras says in the press release. "However, the effects we observed in this study are comparable to the effectiveness of condom distribution." (Some teens invented a condom that turns colors near STIs.)

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