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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2002 Apr 1;66(2):115-25.

MDMA ('ecstasy') use, and its association with high risk behaviors, mental health, and other factors among gay/bisexual men in New York City.

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HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University 1051, New York, NY 10032, USA.


This study assesses patterns of use of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or 'ecstasy'), and the characteristics of users, in a sample of 733 men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City. Among respondents, 13.7% reported using MDMA in the past 6 months, with mean frequency of use of 6.24 times in that period. MDMA users were found to be younger, less educated, to have had more male partners, more one night stands with men, more visits to bars or clubs and sex clubs or bathhouses, to have unprotected anal sex with a male, to be likely to have been the victim of physical domestic violence, to have more gay/bisexual friends, to have disclosed their sexual orientation to more friends, family members, and coworkers, and to have higher levels of gay community participation and affiliation. Among MDMA users, higher frequency of MDMA use was associated with being younger, having more visits to bars or clubs, more gay/bisexual friends, and having an HIV negative test result or never having been tested. MDMA users thus constitute a group at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and other problems. The data suggest that MDMA use is associated with being more 'out', which may be advantageous in helping gay men deal with harmful psychological effects of stigma, but may place individuals in settings that expose them to MDMA. These men have also presumably already been well exposed to safer sex messages within the gay community, thus raising challenges for interventions aimed at prevention, as well as opportunities (e.g. MSM and community specific interventions) that need to be further explored.

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