Illicit drug use, intensive sex partying and HIV: what we know, what we have done and what we need to do
Issues: Increasingly in Australia, community groups, researchers, policy makers and drug and alcohol experts have to understand the relationship between gay men’s use of illicit drugs and sexual behaviour, to ensure HIV prevention programs are effective.
Description: Recent research from Australia’s National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research and National Centre in HIV Social Research, examined illicit drug use and the risk of HIV seroconversions among gay men in Sydney.
The community-based cohort study collected drug use and sexual behaviour data from over 1400 homosexually active HIV negative men in Sydney, between 2001 and 2007 and found illicit drug use was associated with HIV seroconversion, unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners, being younger, more frequent participation in gay party scenes, and being more ‘sexually adventurous’.
ACON, the leading health promotion organisation for gay men in NSW, has implemented a range of programs addressing gay men’s drug use and sexual risk taking behaviour. An overview of these programs will be provided.
Lessons learned: While much has been done in NSW to develop effective responses to gay men’s drug use and sexual risk behaviours, these approaches have not been without contention or significant public attention.
This paper will present an overview of the challenges that have faced ACON in responding to this issue, and outline the frustrations in mounting an evidence based public health response.
Next steps: While ACON has put programs in place, a lot more needs to be done. Using this research, ACON will further refine an approach that assists gay men manage their use of illicit drugs and sexual behaviours, and ways of moving forward will be presented.
-Abstract available at link below-