You're at a swinging party. That special someone is giving you the eye. You've had a few drinks; your inhibitions are low, your confidence high. You move in for the kill.
"Kill," is, unfortunately, an all-too appropriate word. This is the age of AIDS, the unwanted gift that keeps on giving.
There's a definite connection between alcohol and AIDS. Alcohol contributes to spontaneous, uninhibited behavior. Alcohol gives you "beer goggles;" it makes almost everyone look good. You have the confidence of a superhero. You see the possibility for action and you act without thinking about anything but the gratification of the moment, without thinking about how you're going to feel about it the next day. If this were a movie, the situation would call for you to employ a stunt double for such a dangerous scene.
But there are no stunt doubles in real life. We must take not only the responsibility for our actions, but the consequences and/or rewards as well. Alcohol consumption affects judgment and loosens one's sense of social restraint. It may increase your willingness to take certain risks, such as engaging in sexual activity without a condom or having a one-nighter with someone you wouldn't look at twice if you were sober.
Alcohol abuse may also make you more susceptible to infections. Your immune system, which protects your body from disease, can be impaired by alcohol. This has two effects that you should know about before you decide to get loaded and lustful:
- Drinking may increase vulnerability to HIV infection. Studies show that even occasional alcohol consumption impairs the response of white blood cells when exposed to the virus;
- Among persons already infected with HIV, alcohol consumption may accelerate the effects of AIDS-related illnesses. Again, because of the impairment of white blood cells, AIDS-related illnesses develop more easily.