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The future of drugs: recreational drug use and sexual health among gay and other men who have sex with men

Kane Race A E , Toby Lea B , Dean Murphy B C and Kiran Pienaar D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Gender & Cultural Studies, University of Sydney, SOPHI A14, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

B Centre for Social Research in Health, The University of New South Wales, John Goodsell Building, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

C Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Level 1, 222 King Street, Newtown, NSW 2042, Australia.

D National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Suite 6, 19–35 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Vic. 3065, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: kane.race@sydney.edu.au

Sexual Health 14(1) 42-50 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH16080
Submitted: 8 May 2016  Accepted: 3 August 2016   Published: 7 October 2016

Abstract

There are complex historical connections between sexual minoritisation and desires to chemically alter bodily experience. For gay men, drug and alcohol use can be a creative or experimental response to social marginalisation – and not necessarily a problematic one in every instance. Numerous studies have found that infection with HIV and other sexually transmissible infections (STIs) is more likely among gay and men who have sex with men (MSM) who use recreational drugs than those who do not, but the causal nature of these relations is uncertain. Sexualised drug use is associated with a range of other problems, including dependence, mental health issues, accident and overdose. A growing body of work in the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) field demonstrates the action of drugs and their purported effects to be a product of their relations with various other actors, contexts and practices. Given these contingencies, it is impossible to predict the future of drugs or their effect on the sexual health of gay and MSM with any degree of certainty. This article outlines some of the conditions most likely to mediate such futures in the medium term. Public funding for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer drug issues should not remain restricted to questions of HIV prevention and sexual health. It should be expanded to equip sexual health and AOD service providers with the cultural and sexual literacy to mitigate stigma and allow them to respond constructively to drug problems among sexual and gender minorities as a matter of priority.


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