This article describes the self-reported use of substances, participation in unprotected intercourse and differences in sexual risk-taking behavior with state of inebriation among a group of aboriginal (First Nations) people in Ontario. And, in so doing, attempts to answer some of the questions about the association between the use of alcohol and sexual risk taking in this population.
The project was developed in a partnership between an aboriginal steering committee and university researchers. Data were collected via interview from 658 randomly selected status First Nations people living within 11 reserve communities in the province.
Of the 426 individuals included in the within subject analysis 9.6% reported variation in their participation in sex, 13.8% variation in their participation in intercourse and 10.3% variation in their participation in unprotected intercourse with inebriation. An examination of individual behavior across "sober" and "drunk or high" states showed that there were almost equal proportions of respondents who only participated in unsafe sex when sober and respondents who only participated in unsafe sex when drunk or high. Where significant differences occurred, individuals were more likely to report a shift towards no sex or no intercourse with inebriation, not towards unprotected intercourse.
Since a large proportion of individuals in this study engage in unprotected intercourse, the small proportion of individuals reporting different sexual behavior were more likely to report participation in a safe activity rather than an unsafe activity while "drunk or high." Stereotypes and assumptions may lead educators and researchers to feel the need to focus their messages on the relationship between drug and alcohol consumption and unsafe sex; however, the amount of unsafe sexual intercourse that occurs only while individuals are inebriated suggests that this focus is not of principal concern.