Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundRecent evidence has suggested that chemsex (the use of mephedrone, crystal methamphetamine and γ -hydroxybutyrate/ γ -butryolactone (GHB/GBL) to enable, enhance and prolong sexual interactions) has increased among men having sex with men (MSM) attending sexual health clinics in large UK cities. To date there has been no data from the UK or Europe that describes changes in chemsex over time within a cohort of MSM.MethodsThe prospective cohort study, Attitudes to and Understanding Risk of Acquisition of HIV over Time (AURAH2), collected online questionnaire data from HIV negative or undiagnosed MSM (at enrolment) from 2015 to 2018, recruited from sexual health clinics. We aim to investigate changes in chemsex, three individual drugs associated with chemsex, frequency of chemsex sessions and measures of sexual behaviour, among the cohort of MSM over the study's 3 year follow-up period.ResultsIn total 622 MSM completed at least one online questionnaire for the AURAH2 study, of which 400 (64.3%) were still engaged with the study within the last six months of follow-up. Prevalence of chemsex significantly declined during the follow-up from 31.8% (198/622) at the first online questionnaire, to 11.1% (8/72; p ConclusionsChemsex and use of two individual chemsex drugs (mephedrone and GHB/GBL) significantly declined over time among individuals in the study, alongside most measures of sexual behaviour with the exception of those related to CLAI. Focusing health promotion and HIV prevention, such as awareness of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), on MSM that report chemsex, and in particular problematic chemsex, would be highly beneficial, potentially only necessary for a relatively short period of time for individuals, and could have long term benefits for HIV and STI prevention.

Original publication




Journal article


The International journal on drug policy

Publication Date





54 - 61


UCL Institute for Global Health, UCL, London, United Kingdom.


Humans, Methamphetamine, Sodium Oxybate, Prospective Studies, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Sexual Behavior, Homosexuality, Male, Unsafe Sex, Adult, Middle Aged, England, Male, Young Adult