There are some things that can be expected when alcohol and sex are paired up. Sex is more likely to be unprotected, and alcohol has been associated with an increase in sexual assault. A new study out of the University of Florida, however, has drawn an association between two somewhat unexpected aspects of the two: the price of alcohol and sexually transmitted infections.

According to the research, which was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, there is a correlation between gonorrhea rates and the price of alcohol. Apparently, rates of the STD decreased by 24 percent in Maryland after the state increased its sales tax on alcohol in 2011. Prior studies have shown that an alcohol tax increase decreases alcohol consumption, and less drinking consequently means less risky behavior, including unprotected sex. The UF study is the first to quantify the effect of alcohol taxes on the rate of STDs, which have substantially increased nationwide since 2014.

“If policymakers are looking for methods to protect young people from harmful STDs, they should consider raising alcohol taxes, which have decreased remarkably over the years due to inflation,” said Dr. Stephanie Staras, an assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine department of health outcomes and policy and the study’s lead researcher, in a press release.

The researchers compared the trends of STDs in Maryland with those of other states. Maryland was the only exception to the nationwide uptick in STDs — 2,400 fewer statewide cases of gonorrhea were reported during the 18 months after the tax on alcohol was increased.

“Right now, the only population-level intervention for STDs recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is condom distribution,” Staras said. “However, the effects we observed in this study are comparable to the effectiveness of condom distribution, and taxes generate revenue rather than spend it — making it a powerful option for policymakers to consider.”

Source: Staras S, Livingston M, Wagenaar A. Maryland Alcohol Sales Tax and Sexually Transmitted Infections. American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2015.