Sexual Health

MQT on 2015-12-16
Session date: 
December 16, 2015
Question By: 
Andrew Boff
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you support the calls from NHS staff and the Royal College of GPs for 'ChemSex' to become a public health priority in London to help reduce health inequalities relating to HIV, sexually transmitted infections and mental health problems?


Answer for Sexual Health

Answer for Sexual Health

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Look, this is a phenomenon that we probably have to take very seriously.  Yvonne Doyle, the statutory Health Advisor, is looking at what the exact risk is from this ChemSex phenomenon to see if we need to have some new guidance on this, Andrew.

Andrew Boff AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  It certainly does seem to have attracted a considerable amount of commentary.  The idea of people taking drugs in order to improve their sex life is as old as the hills ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Is it?

Andrew Boff AM:  Yes, absolutely.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Hills are a bit older than that.

Andrew Boff AM:  Hills are quite old.  They are as old as I am.  The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is particularly concerned about the rise in not so much the risks from that particular drug but the vulnerabilities it then gives the people involved to things like HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection and of course one of the cocktails of drugs is effectively a date-rape drug and it makes those participants very vulnerable to further risks.

What I would be interested to hear from you is the public health response and what you will be doing in terms of ensuring there is a public health response or public health information, one that does not involve just banning things because that almost never works.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Banging?

Andrew Boff AM:  Banning.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Sorry.

Andrew Boff AM:  That is probably the most unfortunate Freudian slip I have heard for a long time.  No, it does not involve banning things.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  OK.  Stop, Mr Boff, let the titter finish and then we can hear your question again.

Andrew Boff AM:  What is the public health response going to be that does not just involve banning things or making them illegal?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, that is all right.  In the sheltered life that I lead, Andrew, it was not something that I was aware of as a particular problem but it is obviously something we have to take seriously.  We need to evaluate the strength of the problem and Yvonne Doyle, as I say, is trying to get a handle on what steps we could take, particularly to minimise the spread of HIV.

Andrew Boff AM:  According to the ChemSex study that is referred to by the RCGP, the practice has become popular in the boroughs of Lewisham, Lambeth and Southwark.  What work do you think should be done to tackle the practice specifically in those boroughs?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  At this stage, we would really want to try to understand the extent of the problem.  What I will do, if you will forgive me, is I will consult Yvonne on how we could be most useful.  There are two basic problems in this.  One is the extent to which consent may or may not be given to various activities and the second is the spread of HIV.  On both issues we may have points to make and there may be useful things we could contribute, but before we do that we would really need to understand better exactly what the problem is.

Andrew Boff AM:  I hope you could copy me in on the communication that you get from your advisors because it is something that the public feels is probably getting out of hand.  Thank you.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  All right.  Well, thank you.  I will certainly do that without delay.

Andrew Boff AM:  Thank you.