What’s a ‘circuit party’ and how does it relate to HIV?

So recently, while doing a little internet stalking of a new fellow colleague,  I came across his MySpace profile, publicly available to all.  In it, (obviously not updated for some time) it said that he “likes circuit parties”.  Upon sharing this news I was shocked to hear two heterosexual female colleagues inquire “What’s a circuit party?”

Wikipedia provides a good definition: a large dance event, extending through a night and into the following day, almost always with a number of affiliated events in the days leading up to and following the main event. The article also states “Circuit parties have been blamed for the spread of methamphetamine abuse and the rise in transmission of STDs, particularly HIV, among North American gay men.” Perusing the site Justcircuit.com provides some information about circuit parties for the uninitiated, but also shows that the “circuit scene” is still going and strong. Much like the raves of old, crystal meth, ecstasy, ketamine, alcohol, GHB and almost anything else is available at such parties.

As someone who has attended circuit parties in the past (by no means am I a circuit boy – someone who goes to every party  on the circuit throughout the year and travels to do so, staying in hotels, flying, etc. almost as a full time job)  I can absolutely attest that they are breeding grounds for HIV (and other sexually transmitted diseases).  In the past (I can’t speak to the present), drugs were freely available and shirtless men were abundant.  It’s quite easy in an intoxicated haze, in let’s say Montreal at the infamous Black and Blue party, to meet a boy, have drugged unprotected sex, and proceed to party.  According to a recent study, only a small percentage of man surveyed report having safe anal sex at a circuit party (and a whopping majority responded that they have used recreational drugs)

Although a number of these parties including the White Party and Cherry in Washington DC benefits HIV service organizations, I cannot find any HIV prevention services (including outreach and testing) offered at these events.  Anyone have any examples? The same study referenced above, posits several strategies that could be useful to prevent HIV at circuit parties, including the obvious of provision of condoms,  and education pre-party about the effective of psychoactive drugs on sexual decision making.

Be safe if you plan to party and take care of your body!

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