Nav: Home

'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority

November 03, 2015

Chemsex - sex under the influence of illegal drugs - needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

The authors - specialists working in sexual health and substance abuse in London - say the growing popularity of chemsex may be putting users at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well as serious mental health problems through drug dependence.

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.

Data on drug use in a sexual context in the UK is lacking, say the authors. However, at Antidote, a specialist drugs service for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community in London, around 64% of attendees seeking support for drug use reported using chemsex drugs in 2013-14.

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

Yet funding for drugs services in the UK is focused on tackling heroin, crack cocaine, and alcohol dependency, they explain, and both chemsex drug users and health professionals may believe referral to traditional services is inappropriate.

Although some services are now developing specific chemsex and party drug clinics, the lack of data limits the advice that clinicians can give, they add.

For instance, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has provided only limited advice on psychoactive drug use and no specific recommendations relating to chemsex drugs.

However, the Novel Psychoactive Treatment UK Network (Neptune), supported by the independent charity the Health Foundation, has published a guidance document for clinicians managing the "harms resulting from the use of club drugs and novel psychoactive substances."

"Addressing chemsex related morbidities should be a public health priority," say the authors. "However, in England funding for specialist sexual health and drugs services is waning and commissioning for these services is complex."

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


BMJ

Related Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Generous health insurance plans encourage overtreatment, but may not improve health
Offering comprehensive health insurance plans with low deductibles and co-pay in exchange for higher annual premiums seems like a good value for the risk averse, and a profitable product for insurance companies.
The Lancet Planetary Health: Food, climate, greenhouse gas emissions and health
Increasing temperatures, water scarcity, availability of agricultural land, biodiversity loss and climate change threaten to reverse health gains seen over the last century.
With health insurance at risk, community health centers face cut-backs
Repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, combined with a failure to renew critical funding streams, would result in catastrophic funding losses for community health centers-forcing these safety net providers to cut back on services, lay off staff or shut down clinical sites, according to a report published today.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
More Health News and Health Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...