Information on Alcohol and Drugs for people living with HIV

HIV and Alcohol & Drugs

Chemsex

Chemsex

Chemsex (or PNP – Party N Play) is the term used to describe sexual activity between men under the influence of specific drugs, usually methamphetamine (P), and GHB/GBL (G or Waz), to enhance and stimulate the experience.

Engaging in chemsex can fulfil desires for connection and excitement, while removing barriers to pleasure and intimacy and enabling men to feel sexually free. Meth lowers inhibitions and the ability to assess risk while increasing dopamine levels and pleasure. Men have reported that drugs and alcohol in a sexual setting facilitate relaxation, raise self-confidence, and alleviate social unease and fears about body image, age and HIV status.
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It is known that people also engage in chemsex to cope with long-standing issues such as stigma, homophobia and past trauma such as sexual abuse. Some men report enjoying chemsex as part of their lifestyle and that it does not have a negative impact on their relationships. It can be experienced as a positive aspect of gay identity.

However, engaging in chemsex is risky and, for many men, it can become problematic. With lower inhibitions there can be concerns around consent, STI’s including HIV and HepC, and problematic drug use.

Body Positive does not condone or condemn the use of illicit drugs. These resources are provided for people to make informed decisions about their use and to minimise any potential harms. We have collated some of the better resources from around the world that you may find helpful.

Self Care

The AIDS Committee of Toronto has developed a number of online wellness resource written for and by gay, bi, queer men. These include practical tips from Gay and Bisexual Men for staying off Crystal for a day or longer… Staying-off-crystal.pdf

This online guide from 56 Dean St in London is a chemsex care plan that you can work through with your healthcare provider, or on your own. It'll help you to identify a goal, and work toward it.

Crystal Meth can affect your use of condoms and PrEP may be an appropriate choice to prevent getting HIV and it is fully funded in New Zealand.

Being Safer

New Zealand’s Needle Exchange programme provides sterile injecting equipment along with advice, education and information about safer injecting and reducing drug use. You can swap your used equipment for new, or purchase new equipment cheaply. The Needle Exchange website has a list of exchange locations.

Drug checking: KnowYourStuffNZ is a community organisation of volunteers. They provide drug related harm reduction services at events around New Zealand, including drug checking. The service is free of charge to clients and is the best way to be sure of what you are taking.

The NZ Drug Foundation has resources on being safer when using alcohol or drugs. They have also released The Level as a straight up guide for people who use drugs.

The US National Harm Reduction Coalition (NHRC) has created a booklet providing accurate and unbiased information that includes a compilation of medical facts, injection techniques, wisdom from people with lived experience, and common sense.

General First Aid

When things go wrong in chemsex environments, or while we are under the influence of chems, it can be frightening or disconcerting.

Try to remain calm, remain kind, and amongst all the concerns, prioritise the opportunity you have to save a person’s life by acting quickly and responsibly. If in any doubt, call emergency services who will be glad to talk you through the situation. This chemsex first aid action sheet covers some general First Aid practices to prepare you for some specific chemsex-related emergencies.

Support Services

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Rewired
9th Sep to 28th Oct
Thursday Nights, 6-8pm
Change your relationship with meth

Rewired is a non-judgemental programme for people using methamphetamine that want to change their relationship with it.

If you’re a guy who has sex with other guys and want support to review, reduce or stop your meth use, Rewired is for you. Rewired is facilitated by NZAF and NZ Drug Foundation.
The above information sourced and edited for New Zealand form contained on www.aidsmap.com
It is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Please talk to your doctor or another member of your HIV specialist for advice tailored to your situation.
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If you find that you can not control your use of alcohol or other drugs, would like to cut back or stop or would like any other support in this area, Body Positive may be able to help.
To talk to us about getting help, please contact us on 0800 HIV LINE
The NZ Drug Foundation has resources on being safer when using alcohol or drugs. They have also released The Level as a straight up guide for people who use drugs.
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