Warranted or not, sex and drugs receive a lot of bad press. Sex while under the influence of drugs receives even more. This, sometimes lethal, combination has become known as Chemsex. The cocktail of drugs commonly involved are crystal meth, mephedrone and GHB. They lower a person’s inhibitions and increase libido – often described on dating apps as being “HnH” (high and horny).
Moral panic about the dangers of Chemsex entered the news a couple of years ago following a British Medical Journal warning that Chemsex parties, known as ‘chillouts’, were causing a spike in infections of HIV in the UK. A study at Imperial College London also found that there was one GHB-related death every twelve days in the capital.
The fear was that guests at these chillouts, who might be strangers to each other up until chatting on a dating app to arrange group sex parties, know little about each other’s sexual history. Inhibitions are lowered and risks are taken.
Chem-sessions can go on for days. There’s little eating or sleeping, more partying and repeating. By the following Tuesday morning, when the come down really kicks in, many people need someone to lean on for a bit of love and support.
After the Party
Afterparty, a London based, innovative Outreach service, is there for hard-to-reach communities - particularly men who have sex with men (MSM) - with ‘AFTERPARTY’ packs for those engaged in Chemsex. These packs include FREE BioSURE HIV Self-Tests kits, condoms, lube and clean pins. Due to the nature of Chemsex, there are a range of associated harms which these kits have been designed to reduce: the transmission of STIs, including HIV, as well as the effects of drug abuse.
As Tadgh - Senior After Party Engagement Officer at AfterParty - tells BioSure, it is an upsetting and unjust fact that ‘stigma around HIV has not changed’. However, from his long experience in the field, he says positively that ‘the support around HIV has changed, for the better’.
HIV is a three-letter word, not a sentence
Indeed, HIV is no longer a death sentence. Anti-retro viral drugs (ARDs) are so effective that, once on treatment, any HIV-positive person will live a normal, healthy life with the same life expectancy as anyone else. It is even the case that once ‘undetectable’ you are very likely to be ‘untransmittable’.
Engagement in frequent Chemsex parties though, can mean missing daily dosages of ARTs whilst increasing risk of exposure to HIV. This means routine testing is even more important for those involved. Hence Tadgh’s passion for the promotion of BioSURE’s Self Test – another tool in the fight against HIV.
It is so simple, needs a fraction of a drop of blood and can be done wherever and whenever a person feels most comfortable, without the hassle of going to a clinic. Your own easy to read test result is available after 15 minutes and is over 99.7% accurate. It really is as easy as prick, suck, poke.
Self-Testing is a Revolution!
Tadgh uses the comparison of picking up a pregnancy test from your local supermarket. Why not do the same with an HIV self test from AfterParty?
Tadgh, first hand, sees self testing revolutionising the face of HIV. It gives people choice, empowers us to take our own health matters into our own hands and is quite literally changing and saving lives.
To find out more information about taking control of knowing your own status, visit www.hivselftest.co.uk