Subscribe to our RSS feed

The Latest Health Stories

  • Smoking and HIV
  • The bottom line
  • Sex in the City: Part I
  • The condom conundrum: what good are they anyway?

Articles tagged with: The Sex You Want


Sex and party drugs

Friday, 23 December 2011 Written by // John McCullagh - Publisher Categories // Gay Men, Sexual Health, Health, Population Specific , John McCullagh

John McCullagh reports on a new sex-positive, drug user-positive harm reduction-based peer support group for gay and bisexual guys who use drugs and alcohol and who want to explore in depth their drug use and sexual health

Sex and party drugs’s editor Bob Leahy recently talked with Duncan MacLaughlin, the manager of community health programs at the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), about the evolution in promoting gay men’s health that’s moving away from focusing on our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and more towards emphasizing our resilience and strengths. This interview, which you can read here, was specifically about a new ACT initiative, which goes beyond the basics to tackle more advanced questions that gay and bi guys have about sex, pleasure and risks.

ACT is now taking this one step further by starting a discussion-based support group called SPUNK! for gay and bisexual men who use drugs. Drugs and alcohol have long been blamed for higher rates of bareback/condom-less anal sex and higher rates of HIV and other STI transmission among gay and bi guys. Research studies suggest that there’s a connection between drug use and HIV/STIs but these links are more complicated than is commonly understood.

The fact is, many gay guys who are HIV-positive or HIV-negative or who don’t know their status use drugs and alcohol and have sex. Lots of guys manage their partying. For some guys, though, it can be a struggle. There’s a lot of misinformation about drugs, and there’s so much shame and stigma in both the gay community and in the broader culture that open, honest and practical conversations about drugs don’t often take place.

SPUNK! is a response to that. The word “spunk” was chosen for the group because it’s a synonym for both resilience and semen. Resilience is about finding our strength and meeting life’s challenges with this strength. Semen is something that gay men need to talk more about; it has significant meaning for us.


SPUNK! is a group where gay and bi guys who party with drugs and alcohol can meet in a safe, non-judgmental space to talk about drugs and sex - one that isn’t 12-step, or a clinical withdrawal and detox management service. Rather, it aims to be a space where men can connect with each other and engage in an open and meaningful dialogue in a confidential, sex-positive and drug user-positive way. It’s a place where guys can talk about making a positive change towards feeling good about their relationship with substance use and the sex they have.

The intent of the group is to raise awareness among its participants about the reasons they may enjoy using drugs and alcohol and about why they may struggle with substance use. It’ll offer them encouragement, alternatives, tools and inspiration for making a positive change. This isn’t necessarily about stopping the use of substances, because you can be a substance user and be healthy at the same time. It’s more about making positive changes so that you can have the sex you want while caring about your own well-being and that of the guys you play with.

The first group, starting in January 2012, will be for men 30-years-of-age and older. A group in the spring of 2012 will be for guys younger than 30. Both groups will be led by facilitators trained in running groups like this and who’ve had years of lived experience in LGBTQ communities and substance-using and party scenes.

More information is available on the ACT website, on Facebook, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 416 340 8484, ext. 235.


  • Smoking and HIV

    Smoking and HIV

    A UK perspective on smoking and HIV and why, if you smoke, you should probably think about quitting, from GMFA
  • The bottom line

    The bottom line

    UNAIDS asks does the global HIV response understand anal sex?
  • "Permission to be female, please"

    From HIV Negative Spouses, a blog for HIV negative women that have HIV positive spouses and would like support around this issue, comes this entry about the issues women who want to use PrEP face.
  • Sex in the City: Part I

    Sex in the City: Part I

    Guelph Ontario is a city of 120,000 people about 100 kilometers west of Toronto. What does the sex trade look like in small cities like this and what issues does it raise? Olivia Kijewski reports
  • The condom conundrum: what good are they anyway?

    The condom conundrum: what good are they anyway?

    Dave R: The accepted first line defence against HIV is the condom but are we being led to believe that it’s the only thing that will protect us? Just how efficient are condoms anyway, in the fight against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections?
  • Who is your AIDS Icon?

    Who is your AIDS Icon?

    From CATIE’s The Positive Side, five people living with HIV pay tribute to the people who inspire them.
  • Winter is coming

    Winter is coming

    Christian Dolan “For most of us winter means seasonal bout of flu, colds and generally having our immune systems challenged by the forces of nature. For those of us who are HIV+ the battle is even greater.”
  • Busting the myth that condoms don’t protect gay men against STIs

    Busting the myth that condoms don’t protect gay men against STIs

    This except from an article from POZ says “In the age of using antiretrovirals to prevent HIV transmission, some gay men have started to believe that condoms don’t matter at all, even for sexually transmitted infections.”
  • Encouraging vaccine news

    Encouraging vaccine news

    From, news of a vaccine that has managed to completely block infection with SIV, the monkey equivalent of HIV, in monkeys. This finding gives new hopes for the development of a vaccine which could prevent HIV infection.
  • 90-90-90


    From UNAIDS a discussion paper introduced at AIDS 2014 proposes ambitious treatment targets for writing the final chapter of the AIDS epidemic based on treatment as prevention
  • Undetectable - a drama in three parts

    Undetectable - a drama in three parts

    Have the benefits of an undetectable viral load been realized or are those who are undetectable still labouring under the burden of being seen as being as infectious as ever. And what’s the potential of that message for causing harm? Bob Leahy reports