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Ecstasy, sex and STIs

Young couple, regular ecstasy users

As part of our annual Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) survey, researchers ask regular ecstasy users about their sexual health, including whether they get tested for sexual transmitted infections (STIs), what STIs (if any) they have, and if they have sex under the influence of drugs.

Our colleagues at the Burnett Institute put together the last five years of data (2007 – 2012). There were some interesting findings:

  • Of the 2822 participants who answered, 43 per cent reported having had an STI test in the past 12 months. 36 per cent had never had a sexual health test.
  • In 2012, 13 per cent of participants who'd had an STI test in the previous 12 months were diagnosed with an STI. This was up from six per cent of participants in 2011.
  • Among those diagnosed with an STI, chlamydia was the most commonly reported, followed by gonorrhoea and human papillomavirus (this is the virus that can cause genital warts, among other conditions).
  • There was a general increase between 2009 and 2012 in the percentage of regular ecstasy users who reported having sex with a casual partner while using drugs in the previous six months. The drugs people most commonly reported taking were alcohol (68 per cent), ecstasy (60 per cent), cannabis (39 per cent), speed (11 per cent), cocaine (10 per cent) and crystal meth (nine per cent) (not mutually exclusive).
  • Of the 1500 or so participants who answered, 64 per cent reported inconsistent use of condoms with casual sexual partners in the previous six months while they were under the influence of drugs.
  • Encouragingly, participants who reported inconsistent condom use while having sex under the influence of drugs were more likely to report having had an STI test.


You can read more about this research and the findings in the December EDRS Bulletin.

It’s important to remember this data is not representative of the general population. Rather it is derived from a sample of regular ecstasy users, that is people who have used ecstasy at least six times in the six months prior to the survey.