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Gay Men Mix Ecstasy with Unprotected Anal Sex
by Sarah Albert


As ecstasy increases in popularity on the club scene, so does high-risk sexual behavior. In fact, of 169 men who completed a survey at one of three nightclubs in New York City, approximately one-third said they used the illegal drug at least once a month, and these men were much more likely to have unprotected anal sex than the other respondents.

This dangerous association remained equally strong even when the study authors, led by Robert L. Klitzman, M.D., controlled for alcohol use as well as other drugs.

The survey results, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, defined high-risk sexual behavior as any unprotected insertive or receptive anal intercourse in the past year. Of 157 respondents who answered the questions about high-risk sexual behavior, 90 percent reported this riskier behavior in the last year.

One hundred and eighty questionnaires were distributed and collected at the three dance clubs. Of those, 172 were evaluated. Sixty-nine percent (119) of participants described themselves as gay; 29 percent (50) as bisexual and two percent (three) as heterosexual. Participants were an average of 24 years old.

The study authors also controlled for race and ethnicity. Fifty-six percent of participants described themselves as white, 20 percent as Latino, four percent as black, three percent as Asian-Pacific Islanders, and 17 percent as other or no answer. Ecstasy was the second most frequently used drug; marijuana was reported as used only slightly more frequently.

Ecstasy is known to increase energy and sexual interest, and some call it the 'love drug', according to the study. But there are dangers that lie beneath these drug-induced highs. Among them are physical and psychological ailments including neurotoxicity and psychopathology, according the study. This is in addiction to the increased likelihood you'll have unprotected sex, putting you and your partners at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.

There were 152 answers to the question regarding HIV status. One hundred and four participants reported that they had been tested for HIV and four reported being HIV-positive. Eighty-two reported that they were HIV-negative and 18 did not answer the question. Of the men who reported being HIV-negative, 44 percent said they had engaged in unprotected anal sex in the last year.

The authors note that the men surveyed, NYC club goers, are not representative of all gay and bisexual men in the United States.

Updated: Monday, 31 July 2000

 

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