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2017 Drug Strategy

The word 'chemsex' is mentioned four times in a short paragraph, part a 52-page strategy document:

"Chemsex is a term for the use of drugs before or during planned sexual activity to sustain, enhance, disinhibit or facilitate the experience. Chemsex commonly involves crystal methamphetamine, GHB/GBL and mephedrone, and sometimes injecting these drugs (also known as slamming). Chemsex carries serious physical and mental health risks including the spread of blood-borne infections and viruses. PHE will support local areas to meet these needs by promoting and publishing guidance on effective practice, including targeted interventions and close collaboration between sexual health services and other relevant services including community groups."

Some argue the fact that the harms of chemsex are mentioned at all is a win, and while Public Health England has done work on the issue, it just seems like small change against the turmoil of recent years including research last year (2016) reporting a 119% increase in deaths associated with GHB/GBL in London with most linked to chemsex. That’s about 1 gay man dying every 12 days in the capital.

It’s disappointing there’s no mention of gay men and men who have sex with men, or a wider LGBT focus, at all. This was included in the 2010 Strategy (with a note that treatment services should consider the needs of LGBT groups). The importance of services speaking directly to specific communities is widely recognised, particularly when addressing problematic chemsex drug use, discussing sexual behaviour openly and addressing the multiple stigmas that accompany drug use, HIV, gay sex and sexual identity. Bottom line: we at MEN R US think the strategy is a missed opportunity though the short paragraph does provide some opportunity to refer back to the strategy when pushing for better services for chemsex users.

2017 Drug Strategy | Home Office | July 2017

Our response to the 2017 Drug Strategy | London Friend | 14 Jul 2017
Chemsex drugs and former legal highs targeted by Home Office | The Guardian | 14 Jul 2017
Don’t believe the hype: the new drugs strategy ignores the LGBT Community | Vice | 28 Jul 2017

 

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