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Recreational drug use in men who have sex with men (MSM) attending UK sexual health services is significantly higher than in non-MSM
  1. L J Hunter1,
  2. P I Dargan2,3,
  3. A Benzie4,
  4. J A White4,
  5. D M Wood2,3
  1. 1Emergency Medicine and Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK
  2. 2Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK
  3. 3Clinical Toxicology, King's College London, London, UK
  4. 4Genito-Urinary Medicine, Guy's and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David M Wood, Clinical Toxicology, 3rd Floor, Block C, South Wing, St Thomas’ Hospital, London SE1 7EH, UK; david.wood{at}


Introduction The aim of this study was to investigate the pattern of recreational drug use in patients attending a genitourinary medicine clinic, and to determine whether drug use was greater among men who have sex with men (MSM) patients, when compared to non-MSM male patients.

Methods A questionnaire was given to all patients attending the genitourinary medicine clinics at two inner city teaching hospitals over 3 months (July to September 2011). The questionnaire was self-completed by patients while waiting to be seen by a clinician. Data were collected on age, gender, gender of sexual partner(s), and previous/current recreational drug use (type/frequency of drugs used). Only data from male respondents have been analysed in this paper.

Results 1328 questionnaires were completed. Of the male respondents (n=729), 475 (65.2%) were identified as non-MSM and 254 (34.8%) were identified as MSM. The mean±SD age of male respondents was 31±9 years years. Lifetime and last month use of mephedrone, ketamine, volatile nitrites (‘poppers’), sildenafil (Viagra), GHB, and GBL were all significantly higher in the MSM group compared to the non-MSM group. Lifetime use of cocaine powder, MDMA, amphetamine, and methamphetamine were also significantly higher in the MSM group; however, there was no significant difference in last month use of these drugs between MSM and non-MSM groups.

Conclusions Both lifetime and last month use of most recreational drugs was more common in MSM, when compared to non-MSM males. Sexual health clinics may provide an opportunistic encounter to identify patterns of recreational drug use, explore motivations for use, and implement strategies to reduce harms related to drug use. This will require a multidisciplinary approach to address the psychosocial aspects of drug taking behaviours, in combination with healthcare professionals experienced in the management of recreational drug use.

  • Toxicology
  • Sexual Medicine

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