Trends in drug use among gay and bisexual men in Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland, Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: The findings of Australian drug surveys are typically not stratified by sexual orientation, despite the higher prevalence of drug use generally reported among gay and bisexual men. This paper aims to examine trends in drug use among gay and bisexual men in eastern Australia between 2004 and 2011. DESIGN AND METHODS: Data from the cross-sectional, ongoing Gay Community Periodic Surveys (GCPS) were used to analyse drug trends among gay and bisexual men in Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland. Between 2004 and 2011, 45,273 eligible questionnaires were completed. RESULTS: There was a downward trend in recent drug use (previous 6 months) between 2004 and 2011 from 62.2% to 57.5%. However, this trend was not found among men in Queensland, bisexual men, men aged over 40 years or HIV-positive men. Club drug use peaked in 2006 (45.1%), before steadily declining to 32.4% in 2011. There were significant reductions in use of ecstasy, methamphetamine, ketamine and cannabis, increased use of cocaine, gamma hydroxybutyrate, erectile dysfunction medications, amyl nitrite and lysergic acid diethylamide, and no change in heroin use. Recent injecting drug use fluctuated over time but experienced an overall downward trend from 5.5% in 2004 to 4.0% in 2011. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Drug use trends among gay and bisexual men in Australia are broadly consistent with downward and upward drug trends reported in other Australian drug surveys. The risks associated with drug use in this population and high rates of use supports the ongoing role of the GCPS in monitoring drug trends among homosexually active men.

publication date

  • 2013