Sex, drugs and … nutrition?

Jason Simpson-Theobald
HIV Specialist Dietitian , Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust , UK

Abstract
Recreational drug use in a sexual setting, referred to as chemsex, is an emerging area of research and HIV clinicians often have patients who use these drugs. Patients report how the drugs have the potential to affect their nutritional status. A scoping review based on an acknowledged framework was conducted to collate the available evidence. This article is based on the results of the review and supported by patient reports from clinical practice. The drugs and chemsex itself can reduce oral intake whilst increasing energy expenditure over several days. Hydration status may be compromised, and a decrease in blood glucose level has been seen. The clinical impact of this is likely to depend on factors including duration and frequency of chemsex sessions and patients’ baseline nutritional status. Patients who participate in chemsex should be asked about their nutrition and hydration as part of clinical care. Further research focusing on nutrition and these drugs is needed to fully understand the impact on nutritional status.