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Comment: Is London’s gay scene self-harming through sex and drug use?

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  1. A highly informative and thoughtful article: thank you, David Stuart.

    The LGBT community suffers as a result of social discrimination and exclusion that have been deeply embedded in society over centuries, thanks to homophobic religion.

    Until very recently – and even today there is still a long way to go – we have been forced to the periphery of society, had to live our lives in hiding, been passed over for promotion and excluded from many jobs, and kept out of public life.

    In addition, our self-esteem has been hammered during our childhood, and our normal adolescent sexual exploration and early relationships have been stolen from us.

    Many LGBT people suffer from low self-esteem, low expectations, and a sense of exclusion. The commercial gay scene has been capitalism’s response to our needs so far. It does not meet our needs. These factors are at the root of self-abuse with drugs and random casual, sometimes dangerous sex.

    We need integration. Equal marriage is a good start.

    1. What makes you think all “our needs” are the same? I’m gay and MY needs are served very well as things are. “Integration” in the form of marriage sounds more like assimilation to me. We need not all prefer monogamy to casual sex. Condoms drastically reduces the risk of casual sex. Some people don’t use condoms. This is risky. But, some people hurl themselves off a mountain when they go skiing or put themselves at risk by playing horse polo. Yet these high class pursuits don’t get anywhere near the amount of criticism that casual (and supposedly non intimate) casual sex does. In fact, in the US people are looked up to for taking part in the very risky sport of NASCAR racing.

      1. 1/ William – so long as you are happy with your life, and the pursuit of your own fulfilment, no-one has any right to try to tell you how to live your life, of course, so long as your pursuit of your own happiness is not to the detriment of other people’s.

        Similarly, if I think that the well-being of LGBT people is best served by our being properly integrated into mainstream history and mainstream society, then I’ll continue to try to make the case for that.

        It’s over thirty years since I came out in my late teens, and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and observe over that time. I get the impression that far more LGB people than heterosexual people have lower self-esteem, and suffer from loneliness and a general sense of dissatisfaction with life, than mainstream heterosexuals. It also seems to me, particularly with regard to gay men, that many are very avoidant of intimacy and commitment in relationships, and yet long for emotional security and a steady partner.

        1. Sorry Gazza, inadvertently clicked the incorrect (negative) icon. In fact, I fully agree with all your points.

          1. Thanks, Bryan. You are forgiven and absolved. But remember you owe me a bonus thumbs-up for a future post! ;)

      2. 2/ With regard to risk-taking, those who undertake dangerous sports presumably take out insurance policies before doing so, so that if they need medical and social care as a result of a misfortune, it does not fall to the taxpayer to pay for it. If they don’t do that, then somebody else ends up paying for the costs of their recklessness: money that then can’t be channelled into somewhere else. If they don’t take out such insurance, then they should have, in my view. I would rather my taxes pay for an elderly person’s hip replacement than the medical costs of some risk-taker.

        Where risky sex and risky drug-taking is concerned, I would imagine there are few people who don’t expect payment for treatment to come out of public coffers. The other thing about risky sex is that a number of the people doing it are putting others at risk, not themselves. There is just no excuse for unsafe sex these days.

        1. Not in the UK they don’t. We have something called the NHS. This gives treatment to those who need it irrespective of how rich or poor they are or whether reactionaries approve of how they live their lives.

          An elderly persons need for a hip replacement might be the result of their “risky” love of running marathons.

          There is a difference between unsafe sex (anal without a condom) and promiscuous sex. It is possible to have sex often & use condoms whilst doing it.

          1. Very sensible comment William. I find that the casualness of many gay people to a diagnoses of an STD careless and selfish. Condoms and respect go together and any-one can be as promiscuous as is needed.

          2. Yet in your post above, William, you seem to be trying to imply that unsafe sex is on a moral equivalent to high-risk sports. Puzzling.

            Your comment about hip replacement was just silly. And where do you think the NHS gets its money from? Don’t you think that it is really selfish and irresponsible to take needless risks where other people have to pay for the consequences? If a hundred people with depression are denied psychotherapy because the funds have to be spent on one person who plays fast and loose with his health by taking drugs and having unsafe sex, do you really think it is ‘reactionary’ for someone to voice an objection?

          3. Spot on, William.

            Such a laissez faire attitude towards risky sex may well be forced to come to an end soon with the recent announcement that the NHS may soon be financially compelled to move positive people from top-line branded drug regimens to cheaper, and possibly less effective, generics.

            With UK cancer patients having to deal with a post code lottery that decides who gets top-line treatments if any treatments at all, it has long been prophesied and warned that HIV drugs would go the same way, yet still large numbers of gay men continued to go “raw” with abandon.

            I have every sympathy for those who contracted HIV through sheer bad luck having taken precautions that failed.

            But those who believed they could be reckless at the taxpayers’ expense have only themselves to blame, though they will no doubt be molly-coddled as “victims” by the same HIV charities who glamorised and incentivised unsafe sex in their so-called HIV prevention ads.

          4. I’m sorry you don’t understand my argument Gazza. Yes, certain types of high risk sports are morally equivalent to unsafe sex as in both you harm others and in both those taking part consent to the risks. In boxing, for example, you damage your opponent’s brain. In NASCAR racing you ram other people’s cars. So long as the people who have unsafe sex disclose their STD status then it is morally equivalent.

            It is far from clear that my “comment about hip replacement was just silly”. Running marathons increases the risk of needing joint operations.

            What lovely proletariat crushing views you have! Don’t you think that society should give people healthcare according to need rather than how big their bank account is? You go on about excluding people who take risks from healthcare. But it would not be all risk takers whom you would exclude. Only those risk takers who are poor and so lack the means to pay should be excluded from healthcare, according to you.

          5. When you get up in the morning Samuel do you make an active decision to be a complete ignoramus & put your head up your backside, or is this something you have no control over? Three things:
            1. Generics are as effective as their branded versions – FACT not fiction!
            2. Generics for the branded drugs most frequently used in the UK ARE NOT YET AVAILABLE because they are still on patent (apart from generic Lamivudine which is not often prescribed as a stand alone component of triple therapy).
            3. The 2 tier system you seem to advocate (deserving & undeserving) would be a false economy – if we don’t treat people who prefer not to use condoms, there will be more new infections & the drugs bill will go up not down………….

            As I say towards the end of this thread – stop embarrassing yourself by just reading the headline (a BBC headline which was proven to be inaccurate / discredited) & do some intelligent thinking (difficult with your head up your backside I am very sure)!

          6. William

            You attribute to me views that I do not have and have not expressed. Please don’t do that. If you are unsure about something, ask for clarification: don’t jump to conclusions.

            I *do* think that society should provide healthcare according to need. But I also think that individuals should be unselfish enough not to make unnecessary demands on the NHS though their own reckless behaviour that will mean other people will be deprived of the healthcare they need because of limited NHS funds.

            You said, “You go on about excluding people who take risks from healthcare.” I said nothing of the kind, because I believe nothing of the kind. I strongly believe that *everyone* should be provided with NHS healthcare, no matter how much stupidity, selfishness and irresponsibility have caused their predicament. I am just trying to encourage people to be responsible and change their mindset, and to realise that when they get expensive healthcare after risky behaviour, others must go without.

          7. Gazza, your views have a differential class effect nonetheless. Whilst you do not want to exclude people from the NHS (legally) you think that those who do risky sports should take out insurance instead of using the NHS. Some people (the rich) are more able to afford health insurance than others. Moreover, if those who use the NHS after doing a risky sport/ casual sex are branded with stigma for doing so it is less likely they will get the medical help they need. Also, it is far from clear that someone who is rich and powerful (like the US President you used as an eg.) is therefore morally superior.

          8. William

            More misunderstandings from you.

            I am not saying that the rich are morally superior. I am just saying that, if you can’t do something without forcing other people to pay for the consequences of your actions – be it having risky sex or drug use, doing dangerous sports, or having children – then don’t do it.

            Yes, that does mean that richer people will be able to do more than poorer people. If you can come up with some form of communism that does not lead to an authoritarian state where individual liberty is undermined, I am all ears. For now, we have capitalism, which serves most people well. Even the “proletariat” has colour flatscreen TVs, smart clothes and mobile phones these days. (Just pop down to your local Job Centre to check that out if you like.)

            The non-arrival of the communist egalitarian Utopia doesn’t excuse people for taking risks with consequences that will lead to other people having to sacrifice their own rights.

          9. Once again some deep thinking from Gazza! “If we ever have an openly LGB Prime Minister, he or she won’t be someone having multiple sexual partners, having risky sex, or taking risky drugs every weekend”. Whether the example you use is a President or Prime Minister it hardly makes a difference to your argument does it? According to you, the way such people who are rich and powerful live their lives must be copied by others. As for “misunderstandings” you are the one creating a ridiculous straw man that my argument somehow commits me to “communism”. Maybe if you read my argument and engaged with it you might be more convincing. How arguing against the stigmatization of poor people for using the NHS out of need equates to defending communism is not clear. You cover a lot of ground very quickly Gazza. I could just as easily challenge you to defending your views through a form of fascism which would respect liberty. But that would be equally silly, so I won’t.

          1. Also of interest about generics & incorrect reporting

          2. Sorry, but I just don’t get how the BBC report could be inaccurate, particularly in light of recent BBC newsrooms controversies.

            No, clearly smacks of a damage limitation exercise on the part of the web link, W6.

            Whichever way you look at it, cheap generics are rarely going to have exactly the same or a greater level of efficacy as branded drugs.


          3. Perhaps you would like to prove your assertion Samuel. Why are you hell bent on creating anxiety amongst those taking ARV’s by suggesting generic ARV’s are less effective than their branded versions – you of all people should be up to date with the workings of the Pharma Industry.

            What do you hope to achieve by making incorrect statements about the use of generic ARV’s – seems to me that it your intent to once again suggest HIV positive individuals should not expect to receive the very best care, particularly as you seem to think cancer treatment should be given higher priority than HIV (as I note you are always making the case for cancer but want to restrict spending on HIV).

            You are obviously well versed in Tory ideology, make a distinction between the deserving & undeserving, workers v shirkers, working poor v poor.

            Totally divisive & rather distasteful!

          4. factsandfigures 24 Jan 2013, 8:58am

            I refer to the

            “Being prescribed generic medications

            You may be prescribed a generic medicine instead of a branded medicine because:

            generic medicines are as effective as branded versions
            generic medicines can cost up to 80% less than branded versions

            Prescribing generic medicines frees up NHS funds for use elsewhere. “

          5. Just because you read it on the NHS web site or any other myriad sources that claim to be impartial and independent while taking backhanders and bribes from the drug manufacturers doesn’t necessarily make it true.

            And before you demand evidence that scholars, academics and doctors are not beyond corruption, cover ups and conspiracies, there has been plenty in the past few months and you don’t need ME to provide examples of those.

            For all the interesting links you do provide, factsandfigures, it is clear you only cherry pick those that chime with the given, already agreed and mind made up HIV industry group-think consensus while turning a blind eye to the skulduggery and schadenfreude committed in the name of mass profiteering.

            A little balance in the other direction would be appreciated around these here parts, thank you very much.

          6. I thank you for your latest link, factsandfigures, which supports the my claims of corruption and skulduggery in my previous submission to this board.

            It would appear I was somewhat hasty in my prior posting and so I therefore duly apologize for any offense this may have caused you.

            Over to W6 now to respond to the charges set out in your link, which I will e sure to refer to in future tussles with W6, and may I thank you for bringing this amazing source of reference to my attention. :)

          7. Whatever YOUR views Samuel I still do not understand why YOU make statements that are likely to cause anxiety & concern for people taking ARV’s.

            I would rather take the views of professional bodies such as the British HIV Association and others over your conspiracy theories, or BBC reporters who confuse efficacy with adherence & get the two mixed up to produce a worthless piece of scaremongering journalism.

            As you do not take ARV’s one can only assume that you are making these unfounded claims in an attempt to discredit all those involved in the care of +ve individuals.

            As I say if it were cancer drugs we were talking about it would be a very different story. This is what irks me about you – you are deliberately mis-representing the situation about ARV’s, how is that helpful to anyone who takes them?

          8. One final point on the use of generic ARV’s; the evidence from the African region clearly demonstrated the efficacy of generic ARV’s. Whilst it is sadly true that d4T & AZT are still used far too often, the fact remains that the active ingredients are no different than the branded versions. Several Pharma Co’s belong to the patent pool that enables resource limited countries to be able to afford newer generic ARV’s, more can always be done. but your attempts to yet again discredit HIV science & care are quite frankly very distasteful. The “Love” that you have sent to the writer of the “2nd coming out story” seems very hollow & plays to the gallery!

            If we are to believe you Samuel, 80% of the prescriptions dispensed in the UK are of inferior quality to their branded versions, which I do not believe to be true. Now rather than further indulge you in your favorite topic of Pharma Co’s & the big conspiracy surrounding them I will move on.

          9. Interesting.

            No comment, analysis or assessment on the content of factsandfigures’ web link.

            Game, set and match if I may be so bold :)

          10. As I note you very rarely (if at all) reply to any of my questions or directly provide a reasonable counter-argument to the many points I raise on this & other threads Samuel. I think it is a bit rich for you to ask me to provide an “analysis” of the pharma articles as quoted. I note that there are no references to any HIV drugs, & the only reference to a generic drug suggested that it was as effective as the much more expensive branded item…..I rest my case & you have been “hoisted by your own petard” to use one of your overblown catch phrases!

            We can all cherry pick quotes & articles to add weight to the argument, but I do note that many of your particular cherry picked items have their origins in the US where the health care system is very different & pharma co’s engage in huge marketing programs. This does not happen here in the UK; you are not comparing like with like! A good debater ensures that the argument he puts forward is well researched & also pertinent to the audience.

      3. 3/ If staying outside the mainstream and not assimilating to the heterosexual world is a good thing, then I wonder why a disproportionate number of LGB people suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders and seem lonely, alienated, dissatisfied, and incapable of intimacy.

        Just because something happens to be “gay” at this moment in history, doesn’t mean that it is good, or that it is a necessary part of the LGB identity. High rates of casual sexual encounters, and drug taking, as well as smoking and excessive use of alcohol, number among the activities humans often use to distract ourselves from emotional pain and dissatisfaction, even if it only works temporarily. These curses should not be elevated to gods defining the non-“heteronormative” LGB identity.

        If we ever have an openly LGB Prime Minister, he or she won’t be someone having multiple sexual partners, having risky sex, or taking risky drugs every weekend. And I don’t see why LGB people should be confined to the shadows.

        1. I would point out, Gazza, that the upward trend in hard-drug taking combined with weekend long sex marathons occurred around the same time that civil ceremonies were signed into law.

          In the time we’ve had civil ceremonies, crystal has become rampant in the underground sex scene and we even hear on PN of guys giving one another makeshift blood transfusions to remain high from the presence of drugs like meth and methadrone in their partners’ bloodstreams.

          I cannot see the legislation of equal marriage rights as the magical panacea that will make this base behaviour somehow disappear, certainly not overnight.

          It just isn’t that simplistic.

          Certainly equal marriage rights would represent a positive cultural shift, but the problem is too deep-rooted and ingrained into our gay culture and personified by rags like QX and Boyz which glorify rampant hedonism, random sex and drug-taking but never offer the tools to help those they encourage into this lifestyle to deal with the harsh fallout.

          1. PS: I would also point out that some straights who marry lead hedonistic and debauched lifestyles.

        2. Totally agree Gazza. Being on the sidelines all throughout your closeted life, learning that society dislikes you and finds you unworthy of equality, often that makes for a miserable person. So when you come out, and find a community of people like you, there is an enormous temptation to reject the society you came from and idealise everything in the new one. Anyone then trying to suggest that the best thing for you is to rejoin society and view this new one for what it is – a fantasy built on a shared sense of defiance or victimhood – is seen as representative of the oppression that made their lives miserable to begin with. They regard themselves as “different and separate”, because the world told them that’s what they were and they’ve taken it on as their identity. In my view, integration is about being “different but included”, and rejecting the idea that society gets to decide whether I’m a part of it or not. It’s far more empowering and gives back self respect.

          1. Very well said, sven. We are certainly on the same page, and your insightful analysis provides much food for thought.

    2. john collington 23 Jan 2013, 12:15am

      Gazza, you hit the “nail on the head” with you comments:

      Equal CIVIL marriage is important because the law would be saying that gays are equal.

      While expressing “freedom of religion”, most religions strongly disagree with the following state sanctioned rights: contraception, abortion and divorce (catholicism). Logically, it follows that if/when CIVIL marriage is recognised by UK Laws, then a religion will be FREE to disagree (or embrace) CIVIL marriage..

      Therefore, nobody’s “freedom of religion” is being compromised by CIVIL marriage legislation. Infact, “freedom of religion” will be extended for those religions who chose to embrace equal marriage (quakers / liberal jews.. 0

      Religions will be free to hate and invalidate our very existence; whilst, we will be free to live a VALID life – in the eyes of the law, liberal religions and (most importantly), friends, husbands/wives, family and co-workers.

    3. Very well said, Gazza.

    4. Assimilation is neither the cause not the answer. Instead: “By valuing one way of living, the state marks another as socially undesirable. This, in turn, makes it more likely that those who undertake the “socially undesirable” option [eg promiscuous sex] will suffer more than those who do not. … Gays were (and of course still are) forced to hide their sexuality. But we would reject the conclusion that “being straight” somehow promotes the “public welfare” even if it is true that gays are individually worse off in society. The conclusion to draw from these facts is not that heterosexuality is the answer but that the state ought to stop privileging that kind of lifestyle [eg monogamy]. And in the same way it, ought to stop conferring the special status of marriage. Doing so stands to stigmatize those who are not married just as the myriad of laws and policies that banned gay sex and privilege heterosexuality stigmatize individuals for being gay”.

  2. A very well written & balanced piece which lays bare the reality of the many complex issues that all feed into drug, alcohol use & risky sexual behaviours, fueling rising HIV / Hep C infections.

    As a community we need to work together to reduce many of the problems that now seem to be dividing us………….gay men really need to be more respectful of themselves & those around them, be they drug buddies / casual sex partners & those they are closest to – we need to rebuild our communities.

    Dave Stuart, his colleagues & the Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust are doing some excellent work, but we need more of the same & a much better integrated approach.

    1. factsandfigures 23 Jan 2013, 9:46am

      Why does this report just mention 56 Dean Street (Chelsea and Westminister Trust), as there some other 23 or 28+ other main hospitials also in London who service the needs of those who live in London or travel too.

      How can the data published be representative and inclusive, if based upon 1 clinic or is the data collected/resourced from the CNLW which covers a larger population? This would distort the figures of “75% of those using crystal meth, GBL, or mephedrone are HIV positive; and of these, 60% report not taking their antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) while high” Base line figures or year or year is sought/required.

      It is suggested that Dean Street see some 5,000 people per month and is trying to better it service levels to meet demand.

      1. 56 Dean Street together with the C&W Foundation Trust are the only NHS providers that currently have clinics specifically targeted at the growing problem of drug use within their HIV outpatient centres. The CODE clinic at 56 Dean Street is I believe the first of it’s kind & provides the one to one help & support that is needed for people to safely use drugs, manage their usage & get help with addiction within the context of HIV & other co-infections (Hep B / C)

        56 Dean Street is the busiest HIV Outpatient clinic in the UK – about a 3rd of all new diagnosis in London last year were made at this centre. We need more clinics to be based on this particular model.

        1. W6, please indulge me in the report’s finding that PEP has been routinely sought by “weekend warriors” looking to risk mitigate (ie manage their sero status) at the tax payers’ expense:- a clear fact which you have previously denied in the face of no firm evidence being available despite widespread knowledge that this has been occurring for some years now?

          Now you deny that cheaper generic HIV drugs will offer inferior safeguards against the top line treatments.

          How can we believe this to be true in light of the other facts now provably true that you have similarly formerly denied?

          It is all very well being sorry after the event, but in the face of anecdotal evidence in the here and now surely it it wiser to take pre-emptive action now where such experiential evidence exists?

          It seems that with a mass of new HIV infections up and coming due to the wider penetration of crystal meth into the weekend party and play scene, the time for real action is now rather than later?

          1. With regard to PEP Samuel your rhetoric knows no bounds does it? You seem to think these drugs are readily available to anyone who wants them. You are incorrect in this assumption. In order for PEP to be prescribed the full sexual risk assessment must be undertaken by the prescribing Dr & a decision made if it is advisable to prescribe PEP based on exposure risk. For individuals who are at high risk I do not see what the problem is – but of course in your usual simplistic way any harm reduction intervention is a complete no no in your book (even if is saves money in the long-term).

            As for generics please provide the data / study to suggest that once licensed for use in the EU / UK any generic ARV’s will be less effective than the branded drug. Clue Lamivudine is the only licensed generic ARV available, so find me the study to back up your alarmist claims.

          1. To be clear I was suggesting that 56 Dean Street is the first HIV clinic to offer integrated services relating to the use of drugs in relation to sexual behaviours, risk taking, and HIV & Hep C infections. The Maudsley clinic deals with psychiatric patients, which is obviously of equal importance.

          2. factsandfigures 23 Jan 2013, 4:43pm

            not “Dr James Bell, head of the Party Drugs Clinic at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said most of his clinic’s patients were “young, well-educated, professional gay men”.

            The clinic was set up in 2009 and is the first in the UK to offer a specialist programme to help GBL addicts. It also treats addictions to drugs such as mephedrone and speed. It treats patients from all over the country.”

          3. I am not sure what point you are trying to make here factsnfigures, the clinic you refer to is not an HIV Outpatient Clinic & never has been. Obviously HIV Consultants can refer patients to their services but it is not a specialsied clinic in the same way as CODE appears to be – just saying

  3. This site is too obsessed with London. GBL and Mephedrone are used considerably on the Liverpool and Manchester scenes. Hopefully Crystal Meth will not come up here but I know it has been used on Newcastle’s gay scene. Its not all about London.

    Anyway, some people can just have a line of mcat, ket or whatever on the occasional weekend, have a ball and then get back to their lives on Monday. Most drugs are not bad in themselves, its people using them stupidly.

    The exception is GBL. Its disgusting and I dont understand why people do it. I have never done Crystal so I cannot comment on that one.

    1. I agree with Gazza’s comment as well. Even today we are still on the outside of society in regards to relationship recognition etc so its no surprise gays and lesbians go crazy on sex and drugs (gays more as we are men lol).

      1. In what way does sex make you go crazy? If anything it has the opposite effect. You’re rationalization is based on a heteronormative view of the world. Why is it assumed that the way that heterosexuals organize their intimate affairs is superior? Maybe the way gay people conduct their intimate affairs is superior to the marital ideal?

        1. James didn’t say “sex makes you go crazy.” He said that people go crazy on sex: i.e. they pursue it indiscriminately as a result of the low self-esteem and low mood that results from social marginalisation.

          Perhaps the “heteronormative” world has something going for it. After all, LGBT and non-LGBT people alike derive a lot of benefits from it. People who assimilate themselves to the “heteronormative” world also tend to have a wider range of interests and abilities than people who spend inordinate time hedonistically pursuing drug and sex rushes. That means they can do things like become surgeons or fly planes, which is pretty useful to people in general.

          I don’t think I would like to be operated on, or flown anywhere, by someone who had been on recreational drugs all weekend and spent hours of every week pursuing random sex meets.

          1. Yeah I meant that people go crazy on sex.

            Personally, I have had one nighters. They were fun and I dont regret them. However, I have had 2 serious relationships as well (Im 22).

            I prefer being in a relationship. Not because I have to be with someone … not at all I like my own space and Im independent. Its just nice to share your life with someone. One nighters were fun when I was 17/18 (and still can be on occassion) but its so sad to see 35+ yera old gay men on the gay scene still taking drugs, going saunas every weekend. Of course they might be happy, who knows.

          2. Great to hear such maturity, James, you do your generation proud!

            Well, I will be 35 next year so still a little time to find a nice Jewish boy to settle down with, lest of course I be considered sad by the bright young things down at the local discoteque.

            And for the record my height of hedonistic indulgence stretches to little more than an alcopop – two if I am feeling really naughty!! :)

    2. Make no mistake James, GBL might taste disgusting but its effects, at best, are very much like Ecstasy in the old days – it can make you feel warm, happy, relaxed and tactile. It is an extremely dangerous drug though and, like all drugs, needs to be taken with great care and with a strong awareness of the risks involved.

      1. Rehan – working in a large hospital in Manchester – the A+E dept see far more overdoses/ICU admissions (which is really bad) with GHB than they do with Ecstacy.

        It’s a lot more dangerous as, by the nature of how it’s put together, accidental overdoses happen more easily.

        1. No no, I know and I completely agree, I meant only that the effects (when taken successfully) are very much like those of Ecstasy at its best. Which at least explains why people take it (as I used to, many years ago now).

          1. I didnt have a bad experience. I just thought the effects were crap (I just felt hot and sweaty) and I watched friends collapse and go asleep for an hour. Not my kind of fun.

          2. Erm, yes, I’ll take your word for it, Rehan…

          3. Do, Samuel – when confronting one’s prejudices it’s always a good idea to listen to people who have relevant experience, I find.

  4. factsandfigures 22 Jan 2013, 7:37pm

    @Antidote LGBT, please could you publish a link to the data/stastics that you refer?

    London has some 250,000 persons idebtifed as LGBT and is of interest the numbers quoted in this news item.

      1. factsandfigures 23 Jan 2013, 2:56am

        Thank, now placed in the context of the wider UK population, I refer to or

        Key facts

        In the 2011/12 survey, an estimated 8.9 per cent of adults had used an illicit drug in the last year; this remains around the lowest level since measurement began in 1996 (the last time there was a fall was between 2008/09 (10.1%) and 2009/10 (8.6%)).

  5. Suddenly Last Bummer 22 Jan 2013, 7:42pm

    Holier than thou aren’t we Dave?

  6. For these very reasons when I hook up with someone I ask them if they take drugs, and if so, what. I also ask if they have every had sex whilst taking drugs. If someone talks about “chems” to me, as far as I’m concerned I can’t have sex with them. It worries me that so many people don’t think carefully about the fact that to have sex safely you need to be aware and in control (as well as use contraception), and that this is inhibited by drug use.

  7. Anyone caught using drugs should have his nose sliced off, and anyone caught dealing drugs should be hanged. Stop putting this filth into your bodies, you are making normal, law-abiding, monogamous LGBT people look bad with your squalid drug abuse and habit of shagging anything with a pulse. No wonder they hate us.

    1. No one hates you as much as you hate yourself, Dennis….

    2. What about those who advocate making all drugs legal and then, on drugs go around shagging “anything with a pulse”! Do they get an extra punishment? lol
      I find it difficult to believe what you say is what you think.

    3. Dennis

      That remark is unconscionable. I hate drug use and I think monogamy is a great ideal, but posting a comment like that is really painful to read.

      Why not instead try to make a well-argued case for your position, with compassion for whatever point a person happens to be in life at the time? After all, many people take drugs and have compulsive sex in a futile attempt to escape from their emotional pain.

    4. Personally I find people who promote violence against others more hateful than people who use drugs to try to make themselves feel better….I wonder if anyone hates you more than you hate yourself?….

    5. Do you include those who deal in or consume alcohol as well in your Old Testament views on punishment?

  8. This was a well written article and I applaud it being put out there. I am intrigue by the words of some responses in here. I am from a larger city in Canada where meth is a huge issue. Of course, with any drug use, there are health risks and concerns of riskier sexual activities. However, I don’t think it is as controlling over the decisiveness of the participant as you might think. I know from my own use, that I am aware of what risks I take when under the influence; in fact I use so that I can take the “risks” that I do. However, I have also done my homework and research what an average dose is, time frames of use, signs of too much, signs of overdose…educated on the ins and outs, so to speak.

    1. incredulous 22 Jan 2013, 8:55pm

      So that’s OK then. You carefully research and plan your risk taking behavior sessions. Great. Lets hope that when your behaviour harms your health (or someone else’s) that your plans include paying for your health care? No? Hmm…

      1. my behavior does not not adversely affect others as 1. I do not share my party favours and 2. anyone who ‘plays’ with me is completely informed by myself exactly as to what their ‘risk’ includes. My health care is paid for by myself, yes.

        1. You are being ignorant to a) assume that under influance of any substance you are in control of your behaviour b) other people learning from you and potentially harming themselves “smoking novice lear from other smokers” c) you might be unaware of your curent health status while having sex hep c, drug-resistant gonnerrea d) your percption of risk is already skewed based on your pushing-boundries experience e) you dont know long term harm that these drugs may cause in 10 years time f) you are not probably a scientist to do your research, and if you call “talking to other drug users about drugs at a party” a research, then your methodology is not valid. And finally, taking drugs becomes less sexy, as the only way now you can get a proper hard on is when ur on viagra… at what age?

    2. That is an incredibly selfish and “I’m alright, Jack” kind of attitude to take, mattivan, and sadly I have heard it once too often.

      Just because you are controlled in your use of illegal substances doesn’t mean that the person you are “playing” or “partying” with is similarly so.

      Indeed their brains may well be “hard-wired” for addiction, and therefore your puff of the crack pipe in their presence not only gives the green light for them to follow suit, but enables and enforces their addiction.

      Did you ever pause in your own self-gratification to consider that?

      Well, DID YOU?!

      Perhaps your attitude is not so difficult to grasp when it is the sheer selfishness and lack of respect for others that some gay men sadly harbour that perpetuates many of the negative forces in our society that lead some very wonderful and beautiful people – some of whom I have personally known – on a path of self-destruction…

      1. I have a very different interpretation of my my attitude than you have deduced from a few written words here and believe you may sum up my entire attitude as you have, albeit incorrectly. I am a closet user in the fact that I don’t use or do my drugs with anyone else in attendance. You are quick to jump to an assumption of selfishness and lack of respect for others; do you think that is not a bit of a cop out of blame? We all have a choice when it comes to drug use. It is all too easy to point to one known to use drugs and blame them; without interpreting their reasons or pain in doing so; or just because they seem disciplined in their use makes them a leader of others.
        I appreciate your comments, I just don’t comprehend how one can assume and jump to conclusions like you have without more of the facts.

        1. Sorry, I jumped to conclusions based on what I have experienced of how people close to me got sucked into drug using.

          Sure, they were ultimately responsible for making the choice to use whatever drug they happened to have access to at the time, but their choice was made easier by irresponsible recreational users who were using in their presence – hence their access to the drug/drugs – and so effectively served as an enticement.

          I know that were I a drug user I could never live with the responsibility of introducing anyone to a world that will likely have life-changing implications, whether small or inexplicably horrendous.

          Again, sorry for jumping to the wrong conclusion and take care in your usage.

  9. continued—

    it seems in saunas here, there are more guys “partying” than not, with many of the younger ones asking if you have anything….which is where problems come from, not knowing your source, someone else giving you a dose….and eventually they put out for sex for what they get…
    Epidemic? Hell yeah. economic and social circumstances contribute to it? Hell yeah. Sexual health status….such as being HIV+? Oh hell yeah…..
    in one way, we are free to be ourselves, without judgement or worry…self-destructibve? hell yeah….but we still do it…..seeking freedom from issues and sexual inhibition.

    1. incredulous 22 Jan 2013, 9:03pm

      And freedom from consequence. I’m sure I’ll be branded as self loathing and suffering from innate internalized homophobia for not condoning this reckless behavior inherent within the gay scene. But who’s more self loathing, me or the people who destroy themselves with dangerous drug use and unsafe sexual behavior?

    2. But this sort of freedom is false freedom. The freedom to engage in destructive behaviour that will kill you is nothing to be valued, and given freedom is something that can be rightfully valued freedom cannot consist in such behaviour.

    3. You illustrate vividly the many ways drugs can be useful in the short-term to some people to escape the numerous burdens of self-doubt, low self-esteem and fears of intimacy that can inflict so many people who have been shamed and bullied because of their sexual orientation (and many other things)…Unfortunately, when the realisation comes that drugs do not offer a permanent or long-term remedy to such problems, the time available to find such remedy is often greatly diminished or run out completely….

  10. Christopher in Canada 22 Jan 2013, 9:24pm

    The trouble is, drugs are seen as “cool”, whether it was the 60’s, 70’s, or now. How do you fight this mass idiocy?

    1. By decriminalising them, giving accurate and credible information as to their effects, and treating their problematic usage as a medical rather than criminal problem. (If you wanted to terrorize people at the same time, empower employers to demand random drug testing, with the option of instant dismissal for anyone testing positive). Simple. What you DON’T do is tell easily discoverable lies about their effects, and then incentivize the criminal classes to distribute them on every street corner with the lure of massive profits. Simple.

  11. Good to see organisations like Antidote underlining the danger of crystal meth as a potential facilitator for unsafe sex.

    The HIV charities have long denied any correlation between the two and willfully allowed crystal meth to permeate the London gay community unhindered ten years ago to reach the levels we are now seeing.

    There can’t be many on the gay scene who don’t know at least one person who has converted to HIV through crystal meth, much less seen lives ruined and even destroyed.

    One of the most damning accounts of the denial of the likes of THT and GMFA towards the threat of crystal meth can be found at the web site, in particular this article which makes for truly excruciating reading:-

    The PC mafia who run the HIV sector have long dismissed this site’s efforts to warn of crystal meth’s dangers, seemingly content to let gay men sero-convert in ignorance yet fast to sign them up to their HIV services.

    1. Stop embarrassing yourself Samuel, at least have the intelligence to understand that this is a very complex subject area – your idea of dealing with the problem is to blame & divide rather than encourage individuals & organisations to work together.

      The Life or Meth website demonstrates this very clearly and is full of cherry picked “evidence” as is often the way with these reactionary sites. The owners of the site have done nothing to help the situation here in the UK or for that matter in the States, why is this the case I have to ask?

      You have in the past been highly critical of 56 Dean Street and labelling then as PC zealots or some similar rhetoric, & I am sure you have no idea what the CODE clinic is all about & in your usual fashion choose the headline over substance when making comments about any HIV related story.

      1. W6, I thought we had got past marking each other childishly down just to score points.

        Ok, so you disagreed with my post above, but is that any reason to mark down all my other contributions in this thread?

        For your information I awarded you the seventh green arrow for your brilliantly elucidated posting above and would request that in kind you don’t fall back into your old red-arrow-trigger ways.

        I remain a firm supporter and admirer of what you are setting out to achieve in advancing HIV-positive gay men to the most appropriate and life-enhancing treatments.

        Incidentally, I will assume by now you will have heard that PACE is now pushing to mandate for cheaper generic HIV drugs to replace top-line branded retrovirals, as has long been warned about but staunchly denied by your comrades in the HIV sector?

        1. You are assuming I have marked you down, as you well know the comment ratings system is of no interest to me, but seems to be your way of validating your comments.

          I am very aware of the situation regarding generic drugs, in fact I hope to be a patient representative on the National HIV Clinical Reference Group advising on treatments.

          The NHS has long used generics, 80% of the drugs prescribed by the NHS are generics. People living with HIV do not need to feel anxious about the introduction of generics. Next year the first widely prescribed generic version of Efavirenz will be available, which may result in a switch away from the branded 1 a day Atripla.

          Given I will be pushing for National purchasing of all HIV meds perhaps Gilead the makers of Atripla will award a competitive price to match the generic it is made of.

          If your intent is to scaremonger please don’t worry I and others are on the case, so you can sleep easy that both cost & effectiveness will be optimised

        2. I would also make 2 other observations:
          1. What is the connection between the story as reported & the use of generic HIV drugs? Forgive me but unless it is a cynical attempt to deflect the debate onto your favorite subject of the Pharma Co’s or is it intended to cause anxiety? Either way it is not appropriate!

          2. As usual you trying to make the ever so tenuous link between Pharma & HIV Charities by suggesting that PACE is somehow influential in deciding HIV treatment policy? Not even NICE influence this policy – the British HIV Association along with other stakeholders are responsible for recommending which drugs are used to treat HIV here in the UK. You should also be aware that THT are prevented from being a stakeholder in the new NHS arrangements because they provide clinical services – this kind of blows a hole in your Charity / Pharma argument does it not?

          One wonders where you get your information from?

    2. Excellent post Samuel.

      1. Why thank you Richard. :)

    3. Oh god I went on that sight last night. I cant believe these bareback meth parties happen in London.

  12. One of the main issues concerning drug-taking and bareback sex when out on the scene is the peer pressure.

    You really are made to feel like a prude for not being interested in those things, which is stupid when you consider we are generally much kinkier than heteros when it comes to actual sex. I would have hoped a group who are so used to being bullied in younger years would have realised by adulthood just how dodgy it is to make people feel like that.

    I’m 21 and I’ve always resisted but I know a lot of gay guys who are around the age of leaving school and heading to uni who have really been indoctrinated into a way of life that can be summarised as ‘I don’t give a ****’

    If they’re close friends I’ll say something, but if not then you have to just leave them to it.

    1. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to say something about that.
      In fact that’s the way the HIV/AIDS message was originally disseminated – via word of mouth, people passing the message on.
      Given that these people you talk about appear to be getting pressure from other sources it would be useful for them to hear that alternative views do exist; mailing them realise they do have more than one option to choose from

  13. So, is this entirely a problem experienced by gay men on the club scene, or is is disproportionately affecting LGBT people in general – including those for whom clubbing is not something they do?

    Because if it’s the former (and from what I gather here, it seems it is) then the solution must be connected to the gay club scene, not to gay people’s lives in general. It’s a problem with certain clubbing subcultures, not a gay thing per se.

    Most LGBT people do not go clubbing, just as most people in society in general don’t. It seems misguided to me to say that it’s something to do with LGBT self-esteem issues, when it’s only a certain tiny subset of the LGBT population that is affected.

    1. Possibly, but I think in London among gay men there’s a higher proportion that goes clubbing than you’ll find in any other group, and those clubbers are of a very wide range of ages too. (I say this from personal experience, not as the result of any formal study.)

      1. The problem is that these days there is a far lot less fluffy dance clubbing to be had in London compared to 10 years ago and the emphasis has primarily switched to fetish parties and sex parties that are easy to organise via the likes of Gaydar and Grindr.

        Perhaps these are the adverse cultural developments that have enabled drugs like crystal meth to thrive?

        1. FLUFFY??!! The clubs I went to certainly weren’t by any stretch of the imagination fluffy! The very idea!

          Seriously though I wonder if you’re right – fetish clubs and sex parties certainly existed back in the Pleistocene era too. I have no way of knowing if they’re proportionately more prevalent these days; but from what I’ve heard I wouldn’t have thought so.

          1. Fluffy as in standard dance club pumping out funky house ad nauseum fluffy, as opposed to hard sex and fetish clubs which – I have on good authority (blush) – tend to blare out twisted techno sounds.

            Certainly back in my 20’s heyday when I could keep up with the best of them the former prevailed with abandon and there was only the monthly Suzie Kruger night that provided a sleazier alternative, whereas now it seems to be the other way around judging from the club mags I occasionally peruse, erm, to keep my finger on the pulse you understand…

  14. Are the gay scene’s problems a result of the easy-availability of these drugs, or are the gay scene’s problems driving people to drugs? Is uninhibited sex a problem for gay men, and is crystal meth tapping into that? Is dancing sober a problem for gay men? Is there a lack of community cohesion that encourages us to seek hedonism and commune on a dancefloor, or are we responding to three decades of mixed messages about HIV and how we feel about sex? Does growing up gay and different somehow make us less able to sustain intimacy in relationships, and a life of drug-fueled sexual marathon sex with strangers become an alternative?

    Yes to all the above. That’s what makes dealing with the issue so complicated.

    1. There are always choices to explore. You don’t have to jo on living the life of a victim and bury your head in the sand! Search the online resource so you can make an informed decision. Best wishes.

  15. The sex industries, like QX and Boyz, Pro*ler and other sex-shops, the saunas, the clubs, with all their glossy lurings to come have a night of total debauchery must surely bear some of the blame for the rise in the use of crystal meth and other drugs.

    Every individual is responsible for his or her behaviour, but at the same time there’s a lot of money to be made from dissuading people from making the right choices and going with the self-indulgent hedonism instead.

    Once again, I accuse all the many sex industries.

    1. I’m not sure I agree: the magazines were much the same in the 90s, long before crystal meth was around here, and none of them actively promote anything so glaringly illegal. Not to mention that it’s hardly in the venues’ best interests to have customers dying on-site.

      I think it’s more relevant to consider why there’s such a reckless, even nihilistic, edge to certain levels of gay men’s pleasures in London – sometimes you can’t help feeling there are people determined to promote some warped form of Darwinianism.

      1. I wasn’t suggesting that the many and vious gay sex industries have a single policy of promoting the use of crystal meth, but rather that they are responsible for promoting the very hedonistic and, as you rightly call it, the “reckless” involvements of gay men in London, as well as other major centres.

        1. It’s difficult though, isn’t it? I mean, they’re providing services that are clearly wanted, and 90% or more of the people who go to these clubs manage to enjoy themselves without overdosing or seriously harming themselves or others. Should people who know how to exercise caution have their pleasures curtailed because of those who don’t? (This isn’t a challenge BTW, I just don’t know what the solution is.)

  16. Think about it…Alcohol was introduced to the American Indians and it continues to be deadly and socially destructive.
    Most of these drugs are chemically produced by government scientists with intention to cause these types of social diseases and death among the gay community.
    Be smart enough to separate yourself and everyone you know from allowing this nasty agenda to win by destroying our gay brothers and sisters.

  17. Thinking outside of the box: a freudian-lacanian psychoanalytical approach to frame these issues may be of interest. One of the current lacanian working themes is ‘The Symbolic Order in the 21st Century’. In other words, what is there nowadays to contain or slow down the death drive, and its companion imperative to ‘enjoy more!’ produced by the discourse of capitalism. When it is perceived that there is nowt, all that is left is a direct access to the object (of enjoyment), with the belief that there is no need for negotiations and arrangements. The experience itself becomes the goal, rather than the elaboration of the experience. There is also, in the case of male homosexuals, the issue of dealing with the discontinuity of sexual pleasure. It seems that too often, the drugs used for sex have the function of denying the limits of the male body and trying to go beyond them. This of course does not work and fuels a cycle of guilt, covered up by the use of more drugs.

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