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Chemsex is a commonly used term to describe sex between men that occurs under the influence of drugs taken immediately before and/or during sexual contact. The main drugs chemsex refers to are GHB/GBL, mephedrone, crystal meth, cocaine and ketamine. These drugs are increasingly used amongst (but not only) gay men - and crystal meth and GHB/GBL in particular have a common side effect of increasing sexual arousal. These drugs are often taken in combination and used as part of “party and play”.

When you have sex- remember that you have choices. 

Wait a minute Chemsex from hiwecanhelp on Vimeo.


The risk associated with chemsex can be:

  • You may end up having sex with more people than you planned to

  • Within the gay community there is an increased risk of unprotected anal and rough sex

  • Chem sex can prolong sex sessions giving an increased opportunity for infections to be passed on, so you may be at risk of getting an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection)

  • Sharing of needles to inject with can spread infection and injecting may increase your risk of overdosing

  • Shigella is a bacterium which has been linked to gay men who use chemsex drugs. It causes serious diarrhoea and is passed on by infected faeces. This occurs more easily during group and oral sex after having unprotected anal sex.

Reducing the harmful effects of ChemSex

Clinicians in GUM/HIV services need to be alert to certain risks, and may want to ask the following questions:

  • Which drugs are being used (before or during sex)?

  • How are the drugs taken? (smoked, snorted, injected, taken orally or anally)

  • How frequently is this happening?

  • When did you last have sober sex?

  • How many partners might a typical ChemSex episode include?

  • How consistent is condom use during ChemSex episodes?

  • If HIV positive; are you on ARV treatment? Do you sometimes forget to take your medicine when on chems? (clinicians should be alert for Drug/Drug Interactions)

  • If HIV negative; how many previous PEP courses have you done? Are you aware of what seroconversion symptoms might be? Are you taking PrEP?

  • How many other STIs have you had in the last 6 months?

  • Are you aware of safer ChemSex  practices to avoid hepatitis C?

  • Are any of the drugs being used daily/consistently/dependently? (GHB/GBL being the urgent concern)

If you are LGBT need advice and support about Chemsex contact MESMAC North East

Are you heterosexual (straight) person who has engaged in Chemsex? You may benefit from some sexual health and drug harm reduction advice. Contact your local sexual health service /drug treatment service for more information. 


Roweena Russell, E: , T: 079 57 57 6305
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