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Predictors of starting and stopping chemsex in men who have sex with men in England: findings from the AURAH2 prospective study

Hammond, Robbie; Cambiano, Valentina; Lampe, Fiona C; Asboe, David; Clarke, Amanda; Gilson, Richard; Hart, Graham J; ... Sewell, Janey; + view all (2023) Predictors of starting and stopping chemsex in men who have sex with men in England: findings from the AURAH2 prospective study. Sexually Transmitted Infections 10.1136/sextrans-2023-055774. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Chemsex (the use of psychoactive drugs in sexual contexts) has been associated with HIV acquisition and other STIs, so there is benefit in identifying those most likely to start chemsex to offer risk reduction interventions such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). To date, there have been no data from a longitudinal study analysing factors most associated with starting and stopping chemsex. METHODS: The prospective cohort study, Attitudes to and Understanding Risk of Acquisition of HIV over Time (AURAH2), collected 4 monthly and annual online questionnaire data from men who have sex with men (MSM) from 2015 to 2018. We investigate the association of sociodemographic factors, sexual behaviours and drug use with starting and stopping chemsex among 622 men who completed at least one follow-up questionnaire. Poisson models with generalised estimating equations were used to produce risk ratios (RRs) accounting for multiple starting or stopping episodes from the same individual. Multivariable analysis was adjusted for age group, ethnicity, sexual identity and university education. FINDINGS: In the multivariable analysis, the under 40 age group was significantly more likely to start chemsex by the next assessment (RR 1.79, 95% CI 1.12 to 2.86). Other factors which showed significant association with starting chemsex were unemployment (RR 2.10, 95% CI 1.02 to 4.35), smoking (RR 2.49, 95% CI 1.63 to 3.79), recent condomless sex (CLS), recent STI and postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) use in the past year (RR 2.10, 95% CI 1.33 to 3.30). Age over 40 (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.51 to 0.99), CLS, and use of PEP (RR 0.64, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.86) and PrEP (RR 0.47, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.78) were associated with lower likelihood of stopping chemsex by the next assessment. INTERPRETATION: Knowledge of these results allows us to identify men most likely to start chemsex, thus providing an opportunity for sexual health services to intervene with a package of risk mitigation measures, especially PrEP use.

Type: Article
Title: Predictors of starting and stopping chemsex in men who have sex with men in England: findings from the AURAH2 prospective study
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/sextrans-2023-055774
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/sextrans-2023-055774
Language: English
Additional information: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Keywords: DRUG MISUSE, HIV, Homosexuality, Male, SEXUAL HEALTH, Sexual Behavior
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 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/10172160
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