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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sex, drugs and social connectedness: wellbeing among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men who use party-and-play drugs

Jennifer Power A B , Gosia Mikołajczak A , Adam Bourne A , Graham Brown A , William Leonard A , Anthony Lyons A , Gary W. Dowsett A and Jayne Lucke A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Vic. 3086, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: jennifer.power@latrobe.edu.au

Sexual Health 15(2) 135-143 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH17151
Submitted: 17 August 2017  Accepted: 5 December 2017   Published: 16 March 2018

Abstract

Background: This paper explores associations between use of party-and-play drugs, including crystal methamphetamine, and wellbeing among HIV positive gay and bisexual men (GBM) in Australia. This study considers whether use of drugs in a social or sex-based setting facilitates access to social and support networks, which may in turn support wellbeing. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of Australian people living with HIV (PLHIV) was conducted. There were 714 participants (79.7%) who identified as GBM. Differences between party-and-play drug users and non-users were examined using bivariate and multinomial logistic regressions. Mediation analysis examined the indirect effect of drug use on wellbeing via social connectedness and support. Results: One in three participants (29.7%) reported party-and-play drug use within the past 12 months. Only 5% reported regular use. There were no differences between users and non-users on self-reported measures of general health, wellbeing or general social support. Compared with non-users, party-and-play drug users reported higher levels of resilience and lower levels of perceived HIV-related stigma. This was associated with spending more time with other people living with HIV and friends in the gay and lesbian community. Conclusions: While party-and-play drug use poses risks to the health of GBM, the social contexts in which these drugs are used may provide wellbeing benefits, particularly for HIV-positive GBM who may be subject to HIV-related stigma in other settings. Further research is needed to determine whether drug-use facilitates access to social networks or if people with more active social ties are more likely to engage in drug use.


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