SAAHAS

(Soryacher Asar Ani Hacher Amcho Shodh)

Objective

  • To describe the prevalence and risk factors of heavy drinking in men and women in rural and urban communities.
  • To describe the relationship between alcohol use and other health and social outcomes, especially sexual risk behaviours.

Background
Alcohol consumption and HIV/AIDS are both major public health concerns in India. Both of these have been found to be closely related in different parts of the world; heavy drinking may lead to increase in sexual risk behaviour.

However, in India we have very little information on the relationship between alcohol use and sexual health. The SAAHAS project aims to explore the prevalence and patterns of alcohol use in Goa and the levels of sexual risk behaviours, sexual knowledge, attitudes, and practices among adults in Goa.

The project aims to specifically describe the associations between alcohol use and risky sexual behaviour.

Progress
The project was based in a rural and urban communities in Goa. The rural areas are Querim, Morlem, Poriem, Podocem, Honda and Karapur while the urban areas include Calangute, Candolim and Mapusa. We followed a process of social mapping, followed by interviews with key informants, focus group discussions with the target population.

Several rounds of pre-testing for final survey instruments with the fieldwork staff and piloting instruments with members of the general population was undertaken to produce a coherent description of cultural concepts with regard to alcohol use and sexual risk behaviour.

We have successfully screened a total of 4529 respondents (1899 men; 2630 women) between the ages 18 – 49 years from the urban and rural study areas and from those screened we have recruited 1977(1034 men and 938 women) into the second stage main survey (with a response rate >95 per cent).

We also carried out an in-depth drink diary study on hazardous drinkers. After completion of the data collection in April 2007, data entry and data cleaning was done using the SPSS DE program. A dissemination seminar was held in December 2007 for the local stakeholders and national alcohol experts.

Community dissemination meetings in the rural and urban areas were held from January to March 2008. Data analysis and preparation of scientific publications is now going on.

Preliminary findings
4 in 10 men are current drinkers and 1 in 10 men are hazardous drinkers (those whose drinking affects their physical, mental & social health).

3 in 100 women are current drinkers; hazardous drinking is extremely uncommon in women.
Men who are hazardous drinkers are (compared with other men):

  • more likely to be older i.e. in the 40-49 age groups, and most of them started drinking when they were 18 to 20 years old;
  • more likely to be illiterate and not have completed primary school;
  • more likely to be from the poorer sections of the society.
  • more likely to have remained hungry in the previous three months
  • more likely to physically and sexually abuse their partners
  • more likely to indulge in risky sexual behaviours like visiting commercial sex workers.

Future Plans
Our immediate plans are to complete the analyses of this rich dataset, publish our findings and disseminate them widely in Goa and nationally. Our future plans are to develop interventions for tackling heavy drinking, especially in men, at the level of the community as well as through primary care. We also plan to integrate these interventions in the District Mental Health program in Goa.