12 July 2021

Chemsex and Harm Reduction for Gay Men and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men

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Harm reduction responses for chemsex and sexualised drug use are inadequate around the world.

Using substances for sex and socialising is not a new phenomenon. Drug use was documented among gay men and other men who have sex with men long before the term “chemsex” was coined. Chemsex, which has come to the attention of public health professionals in the past decade, involves both sexual and drug-related high risk behaviours such as multiple sexual partners, the use of multiple drugs together, and injecting drug use.

Groups other than gay men might participate in chemsex, for example, transgender and non-binary people are also part of the chemsex scene. Sexualised drug use and chemsex are different. The former is a term referring to the intentional use of drugs in a sexual context in general, while chemsex is a distinct case of sexualised drug use.

Harm Reduction International partnered with APCOM in developing this briefing.

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