A leading men’s health charity and NHS join forces for safer chemsex campaign

Paul Gustafson April 10, 2015

Leading men’s health charity and NHS join forces for safer chemsex campaign.


GMFA, the leading gay men’s health organisation, and Burrell Street Sexual Health Clinic, the largest and most comprehensive NHS sexual health service in London, are joining forces to give gay men advice to make their chems use safer.

The number of gay men using drugs while having sex, particularly G, mephedrone and crystal meth, has increased in recent years.  These drugs lower inhibitions, enhance sexual arousal and are mostly cheap and easy to get, often leading to sexual risk-taking.

When misused or dosed incorrectly, these drugs can be harmful to gay men’s physical, sexual and mental health. This is why GMFA and Burrell Street are launching Safer Chems – a campaign and web resource to reduce the harms of chemsex.

The new campaign will provide information on safer dosing, safer sex, advice on how to stay in control of your sex life, how to deal with an emergency, and advice on PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

A recent report by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs found that campaigns intended to stop people taking drugs were not effective and, in some cases, increased the chance of people taking drugs.

“What we wanted to do is present something different to the ‘just say no’ style of campaigns that are out there” says GMFA’s Campaigns Manager, Liam Murphy.  “Someone who is having chemsex but still managing to maintain a career, friendships and a ‘normal’ life outside of their weekend fun, may not identify with that message of danger. We wanted to create a web resource that chemsexers can go to (to) get more information about what they’re doing and make an informed decision about their own sex life and drug use. We want gay men to enjoy their sex life the way they want but to also show it may affect their physical, sexual and mental health in the long-term. The campaign provides guidance to help men reduce their risks as well as support for men who want to cut down or stop their drug use.”

Senior Sexual Health Promotion Specialist at Burrell Street Clinic, Vicki Kirby, explains why they wanted to get involved with the campaign: “Burrell Street is seeing a huge increase in the numbers of gay men seeking PEP. This is attributed to the use of drugs such as GHB, mephedrone and crystal meth. These drugs can cause a loss of inhibitions, memory loss and even black-outs. Users are not always able to negotiate safer sex and some do not remember what kind of sex they have had. Burrell Street takes a realistic approach to the fact that chemsex is part of some men’s lives, and that harm reduction messages are essential. GMFA have a broad reach into the gay community and a strong social media presence which makes them the ideal organisation to partner up with to promote factual, unbiased messages relating to chemsex.”

The campaign already has the backing of many saunas and clubs – places where drug overdoses have been reported in recent months – with many venues now carrying promotional materials.

To find out more about the Safer Chems web resource, click here:

Or  hashtag #saferchems