The Crystal, Pleasures and Sex between Men project was funded by the NHMRC and WA Health and began in 2017.
Crystal methamphetamine (aka ice, crystal, tina, meth) has had a particular impact on the gay community, where it's often used in sexual contexts such as dance parties, sex parties, sex-on-premises venues and saunas, and in private groups. In this study, we took a social practice approach to examine gay men’s crystal use. We drew on the concept of sex-based sociality – a unique pattern of social relations within the gay community whereby sex and drug taking can be part of building belonging and connectedness. We drew on this concept to develop more nuanced and relevant understandings about the ways crystal is used, the pleasures and risks associated with its use, and the everyday strategies men may employ to reduce these risks.
The specific aims of the study were:
Data was collected in four Australian capital cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, including 88 interviews with gay and bisexual men and 35 key informants working in the health policy, sexual health, harm reduction and blood borne virus prevention fields. The final year of the project included an innovative knowledge translation phase.
For more information, see this detailed project description.
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Drysdale, K., Bryant, J., Dowsett, G. W., Lea, T., Treloar, C., Aggleton, P., & Holt, M. (2021). Priorities and practices of risk reduction among gay and bisexual men in Australia who use crystal methamphetamine for sex. International Journal of Drug Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103163
Drysdale, K. Bryant, J., Hopwood, M., Dowsett, GW, Holt, M., Lea, T., Aggelton, P., and Treloar, C. (2020). “Destabilising the ‘problem’ of chemsex: diversity in settings, relations and practices revealed in Australian gay and bisexual men’s crystal methamphetamine use”, International Journal of Drug Policy. Online 14 February 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.102697
Bryant J, Hopwood M, Dowsett G.W., Aggleton P, Holt M, Lea T, Drysdale K, Treloar C (2018). The rush to risk when interrogating the relationship between methamphetamine use and sexual practice among gay and bisexual men. International Journal of Drug Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.12.010
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Hopwood, M., Drysdale, K., & Treloar, C. (2018). ‘Sunshine on a rainy day’: Crystal methamphetamine use among gay and bisexual men in Perth. Sydney: Centre for Social Research in Health, Sydney. http://doi.org/10.26190/5be39b00ad585
Hopwood, M., Lea T., & Aggleton, P. (2015). Multiple strategies are required to address the information and support needs of gay and bisexual men with hepatitis C in Australia. Journal of Public Health, 38 (1): 156-162. http://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdv002
Hopwood, M., Lea, T., & Aggleton, P. (2015). Drug, sex and sociality: Factors associated with the recent sharing of injecting equipment among gay and bisexual men in Australia. International Journal of Drug Policy. 26(2), 210-213. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.10.01
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Lea, T. Hopwood, M., & Aggleton, P. (2015). Hepatitis C knowledge among gay and other homosexually active men in Australia. Drug and Alcohol Review, 35(4), 477–483. http://doi.org/10.1111/dar.1233
Lea, T., Mao, L., Hopwood, M., Prestage, G., Zablotska, I., de Wit, J., & Holt, M. (2016). Methamphetamine use among gay and bisexual men in Australia: trends in recent and regular use from the Gay Community Periodic Surveys. International Journal of Drug Policy, 29 (1), 66-72. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.01.003
Lea, T., Mao, L., Bath, N., Prestage, G., Zablotska, I., de Wit, J. & Holt, M. (2013). Injecting drug use among gay and bisexual men in Sydney: prevalence and associations with sexual risk practices and HIV and hepatitis C infection. AIDS & Behavior, 17(4), 1344-1351. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-013-0409-0
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In response to the research findings from the Crystal, Pleasure and Sex between Men project, researchers and community health organisations have collaborated to produce a series of podcasts about the personal use of crystal.
The Crystal Clear: Negotiating pleasures and risk podcasts were identified as an appropriate way to disseminate the research to reach people who may be concerned about their own or others’ crystal use. The podcasts do not endorse substance use.
NHMRC Project Grant, Department of Health Western Australia