Low levels of chemsex among men who have sex with men, but high levels of risk among men who engage in chemsex: analysis of a cross-sectional online survey across four countries

Frankis, J., Flowers, P. , McDaid, L. and Bourne, A. (2018) Low levels of chemsex among men who have sex with men, but high levels of risk among men who engage in chemsex: analysis of a cross-sectional online survey across four countries. Sexual Health, 15(2), pp. 144-150. (doi:10.1071/SH17159) (PMID:29592829)

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Abstract

Background: This paper establishes the prevalence of chemsex drug use among men who have sex with men (MSM), the extent to which these drugs are used in a sexual context, as well as their associated behaviours and circumstances of use. Methods: Data from a cross-sectional, online survey of 2328 MSM recruited via gay sociosexual media in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were analysed. Results: While almost half (48.8%) of participants had ever taken illicit drugs, lifetime chemsex drug use was less common (18.0%) and far fewer reported chemsex drug use in the last year (8.2%) or last 4 weeks (3.0%). Just over one-quarter (27.1%) of men who used chemsex drugs in the last year reported no sexualised drug use, but almost three-quarters (72.9%) did. Only 6.1% of the whole sample reported sexualised chemsex drug use in the last year. The odds of reporting chemsex in the last year were significantly higher for men aged 36–45 years (AOR = 1.96), single men (AOR = 1.83), men who were HIV positive (AOR = 4.01), men who report high-risk sex (AOR = 4.46), being fisted (AOR = 7.77) or had sex in exchange for goods other than money (AOR = 4.7) in the last year and men who reported an HIV test in the last 3 months (AOR = 1.53). Discussion: Only a small proportion of MSM in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland reported chemsex, and, for the first time, it is demonstrated that not all chemsex drug use was sexualised. Nevertheless, MSM who engage in chemsex (MWEC) reported substantial sexual risk inequalities. These novel findings highlight several opportunities for intervention, particularly around the multiple vulnerabilities of MWEC, opportunities for early identification of those most vulnerable to chemsex-related harm and the potential to develop a specialised responsive patient pathway.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McDaid, Professor Lisa and Flowers, Professor Paul
Authors: Frankis, J., Flowers, P., McDaid, L., and Bourne, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Sexual Health
Publisher:CSIRO Publishing
ISSN:1448-5028
ISSN (Online):1449-8987
Published Online:29 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 CSIRO Publishing
First Published:First published in Sexual Health 15(2):144-150
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727631SPHSU Core Renewal: Relationships & Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLisa McDaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/11IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU