The Ban on ‘Amyl’

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently postponed its decision on whether or not to change the law around alkyl nitrites (the active ingredient in ‘amyl’ or ‘poppers’). Currently, the TGA is conducting public consultations into the proposed amendments that could see amyl recategorised as a ‘prohibited substance’.

The legal consequence of this decision could see amyl fall into the same category as prohibited drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, with serious penalties for their possession, use or supply. This issue has raised concerns within our communities where amyl is used during sex.

Submissions to the TGA

The deadline for written submissions to the TGA closed on 15 January 2019; however, a number of organisations expressed their concerns including:

Earlier this month, the Nitrites Action Group (comprised of community health advocates, researchers, and clinicians) released guidelines around community submissions to the TGA.

 

STI rates in PrEP users very high, but evidence that PrEP increases them is inconclusive

nam/aidsmap, Published: 22 February 2017
A study of PrEP users presented last week showed that PrEP users had very high rates of STI diagnosis – in the order of 20 times higher than among HIV-negative gay men in the general population. The evidence that STIs increased further while people were on PrEP was, however, a lot more ambiguous.
The problem in proving that PrEP has any causal relationship to STIs is that STIs among gay men were, in general, rising before well before PrEP, and also that PrEP usually involves regular testing for HIV and STIs. Since many STIs are asymptomatic and self-limiting, more tests will result in more diagnoses.
Read more here 

Flux study first report: drug use among gay men and bisexual men

Kirby Institute, May 2016

The Flux Study, a study of drug use (and non-use) among gay and bisexual men, has recently released its first annual report.

Flux is a cohort study of 2251 men, including over 1700 who are being followed at 6-monthly intervals. It identifies: risk factors, prevalence, incidence, and associated harms of drug use; the role of gay community norms in individuals’ beliefs about drug use; and implications for HIV/HCV infection.

 

Some early key findings show that:

•             Over three quarters (81.6%) have ever used illicit drugs, with half (50.5%) having done so in the previous six months.

•             The most commonly and frequently used drugs were marijuana and amyl nitrite, but over a quarter (28.8%) had used any party drugs (including amphetamine-type stimulants and cocaine) in the previous six months.

•             Men in the sample tended to express fairly negative opinions about illicit drug use within the gay community, although they tended to be less concerned about their own illicit drug use.

•             The two most common reasons for drug use were to enjoy a sexual encounter (61.8%) and socialising (54.5%).

Flux is a collaboration between the Kirby Institute, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society (ARCSHS), the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), ACON, and Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre.

 Download report (PDF) here