Wednesday, 30 August 2017

'Chemsex' Puts Users at High HIV, Sexually Transmitted Diseases Risk

LONDON The growing popularity of "chemsex" - sex under the influence of illegal drugs - may be putting users at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well as serious mental health problems through drug dependence, researchers warn.

Chemsex needs to become a public health priority, they argue in a paper that appeared in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Chemsex describes intentional sex under the influence of psychoactive drugs, mostly among men who have sex with men.

It refers particularly to the use of mephedrone, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), and crystallised methamphetamine.

These drugs are often used in combination to facilitate sexual sessions lasting several hours or days, with multiple sexual partners.

Of crystal meth and GHB/GBL users, most reported using them to facilitate sex, with around three quarters reporting injecting drug use.

"Although some services are now developing specific chemsex and party drug clinics, the lack of data limits the advice that clinicians can give," the authors noted in the paper.

"Addressing chemsex related morbidities should be a public health priority," say the specialists working in sexual health and substance abuse in London.

Despite the different funding streams, creating centres of excellence for sexual health and drug services "could be a cost effective solution to diminished resources in both sectors," they wrote in the paper.

"It could also be a source of data for further research into chemsex that would help commissioners in their decision making," they concluded.

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