Sexualized drug use and specialist service experience among MSM attending urban and rural sexual health clinics in England and Scotland

Richard Kennedy*, Jennifer Murira, Kirsty Foster, Ellen Heinsbroek, Frances Keane, Nisha Pal, Lynn Chalmers, Katy Sinka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: To date, evidence on whether sexualized drug use (SDU) and chemsex occur less frequently in rural compared to urban areas in Britain has been conflicting. This study aimed to better measure and understand whether attending urban versus rural sexual health clinics in the United Kingdom was associated with a difference in men who have sex with men’s (MSM) experience of SDU or their access to SDU support. Methods: Men from 29 sexual health services across England and Scotland were recruited by self-completing a waiting room survey. Results: A total of 2655 men (864 MSM) took part. There was no statistically significant difference in recent SDU or chemsex identified in MSM attending rural compared to urban clinics. Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate/Gamma-Butyrolactone (GHB/GBL) was the most commonly reported chemsex drug used in a sexual setting, with equal prevalence of use in urban and rural MSM attendees. Distance travelled for SDU was not significantly different for rural compared to urban MSM. Rural MSM reported a higher rate of unmet need for SDU specific services, although this difference was not statistically significant. Conclusion: Within this sample of MSM, there were no significant differences in sexualized drug use behaviours between those attending rural compared to urban sexual health settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number09564624211041456
Pages (from-to)1338-1346
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of STD and AIDS
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by Sandyford Endowment Fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • drug users
  • illicit drugs
  • rural health services
  • sexual health
  • urban health services


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