ChemSex Increases HIV Risk For MSM

Gay Men Who Have Chemsex Are At Five Times Higher Risk For HIV

According to data from London published last week in HIV Medicine, gay and bisexual parTy’n’players are five times more likely to contract a new HIV infection than other men who have sex with men. The published data also pointed to a 9:1 risk for hepatitis C, and a 4:1 risk of contracting another sexually transmitted infection (STI), based on a 13-month follow-up period and answers given by gay and bisexual men who reported engaging in chemsex regularly.

“This is the first published study to demonstrate a significant association between chemsex disclosure and new HIV diagnoses,” said Dr Mark Pakianathan and colleagues at St George’s University Hospital, London. The data will most assuredly be used to identify with more accuracy a population of MSM who are particularly vulnerable to HIV transmission, and hopefully target them with information about and access to PrEP and other methods of prevention.

Among the 1840 men surveyed between June 2014 and July 2015, ranging in age from just 14 years to 82 years (median age 34), the drugs most commonly used for chemsex were mephedrone (198 men), GHB/GBL (152 men), crystal methamphetamine (126 men), cocaine (54 men), other amphetamines (36 men) and ketamine (22 men).  The men often used more than one drug at a time, and 74 of the men reported injecting as their preferred method of drug delivery.

Once started, chemsex parties have been known to last as long as several days, allowing those engaged in prolonged sexual activity to dehydrate, cause small abrasions or tears in the rectum or along the shaft of the penis from repeated penetration, and often involve the exchange of multiple ejaculations and other bodily fluids both internally and externally without the use of barrier protection. This creates the perfect breeding ground (no pun intended) for many kinds of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and Hepatitis C, to be transmitted from partner to partner to partner over the course of a single party and play session.

For more information on the research cited above, see Pakianathan M et al. Chemsex and new HIV diagnosis in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men attending sexual health clinics. HIV Medicine, online ahead of print, 2018. (Full text freely available.)


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