Party and play in Canada: What is its impact on gay men’s health?

The resource guide of Prevention in Focus by CATIE provides an overview of party and play (PnP) or the sexualized use of substance by some gay, bi, men who have sex with men (GBMSM). PnP is also known as chemsex. The resource explores an overview of PnP, the risk associated with STBBIs, types of drugs used, and possible reasons an individual may participate in chemsex.  

 There are many reasons a person may use chemsex. Some of the reasons include an increase in libido, desirability, the boost in self-confidence, intense feeling of intimacy, decreased internalized homophobia, loss of inhibition, and a more extended period without ejaculation. The resource explores three commonly used drugs crystal meth, GHB, and ketamine. It explains the effects of these drugs, what the outcome is and how long the effects last. Besides, what is the impact of combining these drugs with other drugs such as cocaine, alcohol, amyl nitrate, alcohol to counter the effects of crystal meth, GHB, and ketamine before, during, or after PnP.  


In Canada, there is no up-to-date data on PnP use by GBMSM. Research on PnP is minimal across Canada. The 2005, 2007 M-Track study in Canada (n=5,000) reported GBMSM used these drugs ketamine, ecstasy, crystal meth, GHB, psychedelics, and amphetamines. In the European MSM Internet Survey, Canadian (n=6,000), between 6% to 8 % used stimulant drugs for sex. In the 2015 Canadian Sex Now Survey, 130 Ontarians used crystal meth or GHB. Research across the world suggests GBMSM who PnP engage in riskier sex and explored sexual activities that they would not engage in if not using PnP. Substance use can decrease self-monitoring of safer sex and harm reduction practices. 

A review of sexualized substance use found GBMSM who PnP have a higher prevalence of STBBIs than GBMSM who do not PnP. The resource discusses the use of PnP, mental health, and addictions. It is noted most harm reduction programs seldom address PnP or not aware of it.  

Harm reduction services and programs need to build culturally competent services to serve GBMSM who PnP. Sexual health clinics have an opportunity to create inclusive programs for GBMSM who PnP. The resource provides examples of innovative program models at 56 Dean Street Clinic, AIDS Committee of Toronto, Max Ottawa, AIDS Committee Care Montreal, and the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance is launching a PnP campaign and website.  

The resource further guides inclusive communication and affirming practices when providing care to GBMSM clients who PnP. Additionally, it has a list of safer sex and harm reduction tips and a list of resources. 

Source: Party and play in Canada: What is its impact on gay men’s health? | CATIE – Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information

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