This study examines substance use and sexual risk within the context of gender inequality among 163 women from an urban region of South Africa who were participating in a 2004-2006 study funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Items assessed patterns of substance use, gender inequality, risk communication, and psychological distress. Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed that economic dependence on a main partner and traditional beliefs about a woman's right to refuse sex were associated with substance use prior to or during sex with that partner. The findings demonstrate that substance abuse prior to sex may reinforce traditional beliefs and that women with more progressive beliefs about gender ideology seem better able to control their substance use in risky environments.
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