Harm reduction practices and needs in a Belgian chemsex context: findings from a qualitative study

Corinne Herrijgers, Karolien Poels, Heidi Vandebosch, Tom Platteau, Jacques van Lankveld, Eric Florence

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Abstract

Chemsex is a growing public health concern, with little evidence-based care and support available. The aim of this study is to understand current risk reduction practices, and the information and care needs of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) who engage in chemsex. Between January and March 2020, semi structured in-depth interviews with drug-using GBMSM (n = 20) were conducted. Data were analyzed thematically. The reported preparatory measures were: deliberately scheduling chemsex sessions, and discussing preferences regarding setting and attendees. During the event, a logbook is kept to monitor drugs taken by each participant. People try to take care of each other, but this is often counteracted. Respondents highlighted needs: reliable and easily-accessible information, anonymous medical and psychological healthcare, chemsex-specific care, and a value-neutral safe space to talk about chemsex experiences. Results imply two types of users: planned and impulsive users. Adherence to intended harm reduction practices are complicated by drug effects, peer pressure, and feelings of distrust among users.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number23
ISSN1660-4601
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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