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Wired Sex: Service Provider Perspectives on Hookup Apps and Chemsex Among Canadian Men who Have Sex with Men

Wired Sex: Service Provider Perspectives on Hookup Apps and Chemsex Among Canadian Men who Have Sex with Men

Background: The Wired Sex project was spurned by
frustrations experienced by outreach workers in the field
of HIV prevention trying to access and implement health
promotion principles in virtual space. Community partners
have indicated that the new languages emerging
from the “chemicals” are changing the approach to HIV
prevention, treatment, and stigma reduction.
Our research objectives are to: to investigate what
service providers are hearing from their clients in relation
to hookup apps and chemicals; to garner the
insights of service providers in relation to implications
for addiction recovery and sexual health outreach; and
to build understanding of the modern gay community
and effective stigma reduction messages.
Methods: We interviewed 12 service providers in
Canada working with GBMSM in addiction recovery
and HIV prevention outreach.
Results: The service providers provided insightful
accounts of how sex in the technological age is impacting
GBMSM in their communities. They acknowledge
that some men integrate chemsex in ways that enhance
their sexual encounters, making sex more pleasurable
and less anxious. However, they note chemsex becomes
problematic for other GBMSM who become dependent
on substance use for sexual activity, when interpersonal
relationships and connections become “inauthentic”,
when STBBI risk reduction is forgotten, when consent
and boundaries are obscured, and when mental health
is a driver. Informants discussed the way in which
hookup apps connect GBMSM with similar chemsex
preferences, and advised how service providers can
provide meaningful support and information to
GBMSM that intersects sexual health, mental health
and addictions.
Conclusion: The landscape within which STBBI prevention
and risk management must take place has
never been so complex, and presents new challenges
for community-based HIV prevention efforts. Our
study profiles how service providers are managing the
interplay between chemsex and online venues for connecting
Keywords: chemsex, men who have sex with men,
service providers
Source of Funding: CIHR
Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Statement: None

Speakers: Matthew Numer