New figures indicating that gay men are more than three times more likely to use drugs than other Londoners has prompted a gay health charity to launch a new campaign.
37% of gay and bisexual men in London took drugs in the last year, compared to 11% of the general population.
The new campaign by Gay Men Fighting AIDS (GMFA) highlights the increased risks that gay men may take when using alcohol or drugs and provides tips on planning for safer sex.
The campaign also carries details of support and advice services for men who are having problems with their drug or alcohol use.
Alcohol was the most frequently used drug among London’s gay men, followed by poppers, marijuana, ecstasy, Viagra and cocaine.
Taking drugs and drinking alcohol have both been linked with a greater likelihood of unprotected sex.
A recent study found that gay men using some drugs (including crystal meth, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine) were at least twice as likely to report unsafe sex as other men.
“Drugs and alcohol can lower inhibitions and affect your judgment,” said Matthew Hodson, head of programmes for GMFA.
“Men do things when they’re drunk or on drugs that they wouldn’t normally do, and which they know are risky.
“Planning for safer sex makes it less likely that you will end up regretting the decisions you make whilst under the influence.”
The ad campaign uses illustrations that focus on alcohol, drug taking and sex and will appear in gay magazines across the capital.
As well as the magazine ads, internet banners have also been produced so that guys can click through to information on drugs and alcohol and safer sex on the GMFA website.
“Although taking drugs can play a role in HIV transmission, they are not the cause of HIV. Whether you take drugs or not, safer sex is the best way to reduce the risks.” added Mr Hodson.