'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 from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.