A report recently published in a leading medical journal; The Lancet has highlighted a link between a rise in HIV rates and the use of party drugs. It reported the latest government statistics on HIV cases with particular reference to the sharp rise in London. The report acknowledged that this increase, could, in part, be linked to the increase of HIV testing last year, but goes on to suggest that an increase of drug fuelled sex parties in London’s gay scene is the main catalyst for the rise.
These parties are more commonly known as ‘slamming parties’ (with slamming being a reference to injecting drugs) or PnP (party and play). They are not just ‘after parties’ or ‘chill outs’ following a night out. They are pre-arranged, sometimes week long, often unprotected orgies, fuelled by injecting crystal methamphetamine.
Injecting Crystal Meth rather than smoking it provides a far more intense and longer hit which ramps up your libido and strips inhibitions. Although smoking Meth is still a very potent method and PnP won’t exclusively be about using Crystal Meth. Other drugs such as G and former legal high Methedrone might be used, bringing with them their own complications.
But with the lower inhibitions and higher sex drive these drugs will bring, comes increased risk, meaning safe sex is more likely to go out the window. The Lancet article also suggests that these parties are attended by positive men and that negative men are using an unproven strategy of using 4 days worth of HIV medication in the hope of remaining negative. This makes sex and drugs a potentially lethal combination.I don’t consider drug fuelled sex to be a new phenomenon. Having a heightened sexual experience while on drugs has been discussed in my therapy sessions for a number of years by both straight and sexually diverse clients, but in my experience this has been more closely linked with cocaine and ecstasy.
The increase in ‘slamming parties’ imposes new levels of risk. With LGBT Charities reporting that seeking out new sexual partners who are into bareback sex is not the taboo it once was. Plus the increased use social media sites and ‘hook up’ apps has made finding sexual partners a lot easier.
The report also explains that although people who engage in these “slamming parties” only represent a small minority of the gay community, it seems to be rising rapidly and represents a change in drug and sex culture. For me, this highlights the need for counsellors who work with Gender and Sexual Diversity (GSD) clients to commit to continuing professional development. GSD is an ever changing field, and as progress happens in some areas, such as gay marriage; in others, like the gay nightlife scene, new challenges will be faced.
I read chapters of textbooks published only a few years ago, that just don’t seem relevant anymore. If we keep up to date with the latest research, developments and training, we can gain a better understanding of the newer issues our clients may be experiencing. Thus enabling us to become more competent practitioners and act more in our clients best interests.
Editorial: PT would like to remind readers that we teach a ‘Without Condoms‘ workshop that covers these issues, and the use of MI (Motivational Interviewing), to discover the reasons for a patient’s risky sexual behaviour, and change them if that’s required.