UK: National AIDS Trust calls on London Councils to tackle drug use amongst gay men

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The UK’s National Aids Trust (NAT) has called for urgent action from London  Councils to tackle a recent rise in the use of drugs amongst the London gay community.

In a letter published by NAT today, the organisation asks London Councils in the capital to take action to curb the rapid rise in the use of crystal meth, mephedrone and GHB/GBL.

Today’s call for action comes from a roundtable on HIV and injecting drug use, which was organised in January 2013 by NAT.

The organisation said that the seriousness of the situation regarding drug use and HIV transmission became clear from the study.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, said, “HIV prevention services for gay men in London have failed to effectively address this issue. They have been too slow to respond to the fast changing trends in drug use on the gay scene.

“We are calling on the London Councils as they take on their new responsibility for commissioning both sexual health and drug services in London to meet this challenge and commission integrated sexual health and drugs services tailored specifically for gay men. This is essential if we are going to reduce the high rates of HIV and STI transmission.”

The letter from NAT draws evidence from Antidote, the only LGBT drug support service in London, from the Club Drug Clinic and the 56 Dean Street Clinic.

It points to a huge increase in the use of the drugs by gay men, especially in the context of high risk sex.

The evidence showed high rates of injecting, and sharing of needles as reasons behind a serious risk of HIV and hepatitis C infection.

It urged the group of councils to take action because the tailored services within London were unable to meet the high demand, and most other services were unable to respond appropriately.

According to the most recent figures from the Health Protection Agency, 3,010 gay and bisexual men tested positive for HIV in 2011, the highest ever number of HIV diagnoses among the group.