CHEMSEX

Carol Khaw’s presentation on the first Australian study of Chemsex was a crucial step in understanding this important issue in this region. Most of our existing knowledge is based on UK research, and it is yet to be taken further in Australia. Based in South Australia, this important clinic based questionnaire study aimed to determine:

  • Prevalence of Chemsex among men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • The characteristics and risk profiles of the group of MSM who engage in Chemsex
  • Any associations between Chemsex and STIs, including HIV diagnosis in MSM

 

Findings indicated:

  • ChemSex is a key predictor to condomless anal intercourse (CLAI)
  • South Australian born MSM tend to have CLAI
  • South Australian HIV positive MSM more likely to engage in Chemsex

 

Key points of interest for me in the demographics and profiles provided were that the group of MSM who engage in Chemsex and tended to have had CLAI were more likely to be:

  • HIV positive
  • On PrEP (no significant link with having been on PEP)
  • Diagnosed with an STI of significance in the previous 12 months

 

Additionally it was an interesting sidebar that the majority of respondents reported they use the drugs when the opportunity arises, 20% use them in planned organised parties, and about 30% would like to stop using. 

Following the presentation, Carol kindly spoke to me about her plan to expand the study to other sites: as a clinic based cohort, it could easily be rolled out once additional sites were recruited.  The results of this initial study clearly show the importance of the issue, and of further research in the area. Watch this space in Australia!