Chemsex and chemsex associated substance use among men who have sex with men in Asia: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Haoyi Wang*, Kai J. Jonas*, Thomas E. Guadamuz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


BACKGROUND: The prevalence of chemsex has been reported by multiple systematic reviews among men who have sex with men (MSM) focussing predominantly on the Global North. An Asian perspective with meta-analytical evidence is missing. This meta-analysis summarised the prevalence of substance use associated with chemsex, and chemsex activity among MSM and MSM sub-populations in Asia, as well as the likelihood for chemsex among MSM living with or without HIV.

METHODS: We utilized PubMed, Web of Science and medRxiv to search for literature describing chemsex and its associated substance use among MSM and MSM sub-populations in Asia from January 1, 2010 to November 1, 2021 to conduct three meta-analyses with both frequentist and Bayesian approaches.

RESULTS: We identified 219 studies and included 23 in the meta-analysis. Based on the frequentist models, methamphetamine was the default substance associated with chemsex among MSM in Asia (prevalence = 0.16, 95 %CI:0.09-0.22), followed by GHB/GBL (prevalence = 0.15, 95 %CI:0.03-0.27) and ketamine (prevalence = 0.08, 95 %CI:0.04-0.12), but hardly any cocaine (prevalence = 0.01, 95 %CI:0.00-0.03). Compared to a general MSM population (prevalence = 0.19, 95 %CI:0.15-0.23), MSM engaging in transactional sex showed a higher prevalence of chemsex (MSM sex work clients [prevalence = 0.28, 95 %CI:0.11-0.45]; MSM sex worker [prevalence = 0.28, 95 %CI:0.17-0.26]). MSM living with HIV also showed higher odds of chemsex activity (OR = 3.35, 95 %CI:1.57-7.10), compared to MSM living without HIV. Both meta-analytic models converged, indicating robust evidence.

CONCLUSIONS: Our meta-analyses showed that chemsex is not uncommon among MSM, and MSM engaging in transactional sex in Asia. We confirmed that MSM living with HIV have a higher likelihood of engaging in chemsex, too. Chemsex prevention and management strategies in Asia should be adjusted accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109741
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Male
  • Humans
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Unsafe Sex
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders/epidemiology
  • Asia/epidemiology
  • HIV Infections/epidemiology
  • Sexual Behavior

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