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Recreational drug use and use of drugs associated with chemsex among HIV-negative and HIV-positive heterosexual men and women attending sexual health and HIV clinics in England

Miltz, AR; Rodger, AJ; Sewell, J; Gilson, R; Allan, S; Scott, C; Sadiq, T; ... AURAH and ASTRA Study Groups; + view all (2021) Recreational drug use and use of drugs associated with chemsex among HIV-negative and HIV-positive heterosexual men and women attending sexual health and HIV clinics in England. International Journal of Drug Policy , 91 , Article 103101. 10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.103101. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: There is little information on the prevalence of recreational drug use among UK heterosexual men and women, in particular on use of drugs associated with ‘chemsex’ within gay communities. The aim of this study was to examine among HIV-negative and HIV-positive heterosexual men and women in England: (i) the prevalence of recreational drug use (including use of drugs associated with chemsex), (ii) socio-economic/lifestyle correlates of drug use, and (iii) the association of drug use with sexual behavior measures and mental health symptoms. Methods: Data are from the AURAH study of HIV-negative individuals attending sexual health clinics across England (2013–2014) and the ASTRA study of HIV-positive individuals attending HIV outpatient clinics in England (2011–2012). Prevalence of recreational drug use (past three months) and associations are presented separately among the four sample groups: HIV-negative (N = 470) and HIV-positive (N = 373) heterosexual men and HIVnegative (N = 676) and HIV-positive (N = 637) women. Results: The age standardized prevalence of any drug use was 22.9%, 17.1%, 15.3%, and 7.1% in the four sample groups respectively. In all groups, cannabis was the drug most commonly used (range from 4.7% to 17.9%) followed by cocaine (1.6% to 8.5%). The prevalence of use of drugs associated with chemsex was very low among HIV-negative participants (1.0% heterosexual men, 0.2% women) and zero among HIV-positive men and women. In age-adjusted analysis, factors linked to drug use overall and/or to cannabis and cocaine use specifically in the four sample groups included Black/mixed Caribbean and white (vs. Black/mixed African) ethnicity, lower level of education , cigarette smoking, and higher risk alcohol consumption. Associations of recreational drug use with measures of condomless sex, depression, and anxiety were observed in the four groups, but were particularly strong/apparent among women. Conclusion: Providers need to be aware of cannabis and cocaine use and its potential link with sexual risk behavior and symptoms of depression and anxiety among heterosexual men and women attending sexual health and HIV clinics.

Type: Article
Title: Recreational drug use and use of drugs associated with chemsex among HIV-negative and HIV-positive heterosexual men and women attending sexual health and HIV clinics in England
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.103101
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.103101
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Keywords: Recreational drug use, Chemsex, Depression, Anxiety, Sexual behavior, Heterosexual
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10120683
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