As many nations around the Western World still struggled to conduct proper outreach to those communities most at risk for contracting HIV, including gay males, we understand that drug usage is still a concern that needs to be addressed.
Our community has had a long standing reputation of using drugs to ease the pain of being homosexual, enjoy sex more/better, under a form of cultural peer pressure as well as other issues that may have noting to do with our gayness. But, the honest truth is, we need to talk about how drugs are effecting our decision making when it comes to sex.
We at GMJ know and speak about the difference between using drugs and abusing drugs. We also take a harm reduction approach to this subject because not everyone is the same and they must reach conclusions about their usage for themselves, when they are ready.
This article is designed to inform you about the drugs commonly used at so-called chemsex parties, and how they could be effecting not only the HIV rates within our community, but our overall health and safety.
WHAT IS A CHEMSEX PARTY?
We all know what chemsex is. For the three of you that don’t, it is when a person uses a, usually, illegal drug to enhance their sexual drive and/or increase their longevity. Unlike other organizations, our list of chemsex drugs don’t just include the hard drugs, such as crystal meth, but also viagra and alcohol.
A chemsex party is the name the media has given to gatherings where one of the primary goals is for gay males to gather for sex as well as drug usage. They consider the drug use to be of greater value than the sex, which is a consequence of their usage.
There are three prevalent drugs on the chemsex party scene: mephedrone, GHB, and crystal meth. Used in various combinations they enable you to have sex for hours, inhibiting ejaculation. They can turn sex into a marathon of Roman decadence but there are dangers: you tend to lose your judgment and can end up sleeping with someone you wouldn’t look at twice in a club; your sexual inhibitions can be significantly lowered to the point of becoming blasé about unprotected sex. When consumed in excessive amounts – or combined with alcohol – G can also lead to blackouts or fits, referred to as “going under” or “G-ing out”.
This isn’t news to any of you reading this. If you are on any gay dating apps, you already are very familiar with the terms Party and Play (PNP) and know the guys who want to get “straight to the point”. But, these are individuals, usually less than four (4), who gather. Chemsex parties will be much larger in attendance, and go on for days at a time.
Physicians say HIV continues to hold a tight grip on the LGBTQ community partly because of the continued popularity of “chemsex.”
The discussion of chemsex happened at the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care conference, which wrapped Wednesday in London. IAPAC President José Zuniga called the epidemic a “challenge of proportions we cannot fully comprehend at this time,” according to Reuters.
HIV and STIs
Chemsex parties are recently being blamed for the uptick in HIV infection rates in certain cities like London.
The gay community in the city has known many challenges over the past three decades, linked to the Aids epidemic that ravaged its ranks from the 1980s, silently at first, and then more loudly, along with the social ostracisation that it provoked.
Today, however, the community is facing a new challenge, due to the growth in the numbers of men indulging in days-long orgies organised on social media, fuelled by drugs, such as liquid ecstasy, or “G”, in a practice known to doctors as “chemsex”.
Years of efforts to spread safe-sex practices are being lost among a new generation, which grew up after the arrival of Aids, leading doctors to warn that HIV rates and sexually-transmitted diseases cases are rising rapidly.
Indeed, police and doctors report that the use of crystal meth is largely confined to those in the gay community involved in group sex. Seven in 10 use needles. Two-thirds of those with HIV admit to not taking their HIV medication while under the influence.
Most worryingly of all, nearly nine in every 10 believe they contracted HIV – which is rising again in London – through their use of drugs such as crystal meth, GBL and Mephedrone.
One in every eight gay men in London is HIV positive, compared with one in every 26 in the rest of the UK, while Lambeth has the highest prevalence of HIV of anywhere in the country, affecting 14 of every 1,000 people in the borough.
CRIMES including RAPE
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand how the usage of these drugs, especially over a long period of time, with total strangers could lead to a rise in not just HIV rates but also other STIs.
These unregulated gatherings are publicized on social media for the sole purpose of gaining the most amount of attendants. When this is combined with the number of people who have not been tested for HIV along with those who are not using precautions such as PrEP or even condoms, yes, infection rates will rise.
Most of this is due to the effects of the drugs on the user. All of them are known to not only create a heightened sex drive, but also euphoria, sleepiness and an impaired judgement. This is the deadliest cocktail of all, as it can lead to other dangers.
A joint investigation by BuzzFeed News and Channel 4 Dispatches found that GHB, a drug used to heighten sexual pleasure, is regularly used to “sexually assault gay men” with footage of the rape broadcast live on the dark web.
The documentary was partly based on a survey of 2,700 gay and bisexual men in Britain conducted earlier this year.
It said more than one in four of the men surveyed reported being sexually assaulted after taking the drug, which rose in popularity on the gay club scene at the turn of the century.
“The scale of drugging and sexual assault and rape in our survey cannot be ignored,” said Patrick Strudwick, LGBT editor at BuzzFeed News, who reported the findings for the documentary, “Sex, Drugs and Murder: Channel 4 Dispatches”.
“The fact that [GHB] is being weaponized by rapists and murders should be of high alarm to the police and the government,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Of the 2,700 men who responded to the documentary survey, half said they had passed out after taking GHB; 93% said they knew of someone who had done so.
Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, a member of the LGBT advisory group to Britain’s Metropolitan Police, said that he had become comatose “10-12 times” after taking the drug.
He said he was “pretty sure” he had been sexually assaulted under the influence of GHB, but had no proof.
“That is why Stephen Port got away with what he did for so long,” Hyyrylainen-Trett said.
According to data collected for the documentary through Freedom of Information requests, four British hospitals alone saw almost 700 cases involving GHB in the year to November 2018.
If the figures were replicated across Britain, this could mean as many as 17,000 people are admitted to hospital a year as a result of taking the drug, the program said.
According to the Office for National Statistics, about 20 people a year in England and Wales die from drug-related deaths involving GHB, most male.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
Chemsex isn’t just like any other addiction because it is really, at least, two (2) addictions combined: drugs and sex.
We refuse to dive into the debate of why gay males are willing to take such chances with using these drugs, the popularity of sex with strangers, the personal or social issues which support them or even the cultural issues that may shame or blame users into a sense of denial or feeling attacked. We won’t do this because these are all personal issues that should be addressed by a licensed therapist.
The easy answer is, gay guys do drugs when having sex for the same reasons that straights do; they are two great tastes that go together. But, when our usage leads to an increase in the disease we have finally been getting a handle on, is a cause for crimes such as robbery, rape and murder and can even cause death, we, as a community should be concerned.
We cannot say if you are addicted to any drug, because we don’t know you. But, as we have stated in other articles, some signs that you might be addicted include:
- Having unprotected sex more often
- Increased usage of a particular drug
- Increased amount of partners you don’t know
- Taking greater risks with your personal safety
- Having symptoms of psychological and physiological dependence
But, most of all, if you find that you cannot have, or enjoy sex without the use of these drugs and/or if your ‘weekend partying” begins to start earlier and earlier in the week, And stop, later and later in the week,you might want to think about seeking help.