A narrative systematic review of sexualised drug use and sexual health outcomes among LGBT people

Matthew Peter Hibbert*, Alice Hillis, Caroline E. Brett, Lorna A. Porcellato, Vivian D. Hope

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Introduction: Chemsex is a specific form of sexualised drug use (SDU) that is an emerging public health issue among men who have sex with men (MSM). Although the recent focus on chemsex is a reflection of the associated harms it is important to understand SDU more broadly and its associations with risk behaviours. Additionally, some of the reasons suggested for MSM engagement in SDU are also likely to apply to women who have sex with women (WSW) and trans people. The aim of this review was to investigate SDU, including chemsex, among lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people internationally in relation to sexual health outcomes (HIV status, STI diagnosis, condom use). Methods: Papers that were published between January 2010 and June 2020 reporting SDU in MSM, WSW, or trans people were identified through Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus and Web of Science. Results were synthesised using a narrative approach. Results: The search identified 2,710 publications, of which 75 were included in the final synthesis. The majority of studies measured SDU among MSM (n = 71), and four studies measured SDU among trans people. Research into SDU had been conducted in 55 countries and 32 countries had recorded the use of a chemsex drug among MSM, although the drugs used to define chemsex varied. Among studies that researched MSM, SDU was most commonly investigated in relation to condomless anal intercourse (n = 42), followed by HIV prevalence (n = 35), and then STI diagnoses (n = 27). Drug use was generally associated with sexual health outcomes, but particularly in chemsex studies. Conclusions: SDU research is lacking among WSW and trans people, despite trans women having a high HIV prevalence. Among MSM, most drugs were associated with sexual health outcomes, and therefore it is important to include both chemsex drugs and other drugs in SDU research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103187
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Early online date24 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Chemsex
  • LGBT people
  • sexual health
  • sexualised drug use
  • systematic review


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