Alcohol Use and HIV Prevention Among Personnel in the Belize Defence Force
To evaluate the effect of a peer-based risk reduction project on alcohol use and sexual behavior within Belize Defence Force personnel. We used a quasi-experimental, mixed quantitative and qualitative methods design to evaluate project outcomes. Two serial cross-sectional surveys were conducted [baseline (n = 126) and 6-month follow-up (n = 128)] using computer assisted self-interview. Semistructured interviews were collected from 12 peer counselors 3 months after the beginning of the project. The proportion of respondents screening positive for alcohol dependence decreased significantly from 80 % at preintervention to 66 % at postintervention (p = 0.045), and the percentage of respondents reporting that they normally drink alcohol before work decreased from 11 to 3 % (p = 0.013). Alcohol abuse and dependency scores correlated positively with the overall number of sexual partners in both male and female respondents. There was a slight decrease in the percentage of female respondents' reporting inconsistent condom use for vaginal sex (baseline 100 %, follow-up 83 %, p = 0.088), but there was no appreciable change reported in condom use among male respondents. Qualitative findings suggest that techniques to reduce the quantity of alcohol consumed were a salient focus of peer counselors, and administrative barriers can readily mitigate implementation of such interventions. In this evaluation of a risk reduction program with the BDF, we found evidence of a reduction in types of alcohol use from baseline to follow-up. Alcohol-related risk reductions carry implications for reducing sexual risk behavior in military personnel. Future research with stronger experimental design strategies may better elucidate how substance use reduction is linked with sexual risk reduction in military personnel.