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New chemsex resource will help Thai men play safer

New chemsex resource will help Thai men play safer

two men in skimpy flight attendant uniforms hand out condoms

A new campaign has become a first on harm reduction strategies for those engaging in chemsex in Thailand.

Asia’s leading HIV advocacy group, APCOM, launched the first and only chemsex harm reduction campaign in Thai and for men who have sex with men (MSM).

testBKK is APCOM’s flagship HIV testing campaign targeted to young MSM.

APCOM found major cities in Thailand have reduced gay stigma and have good health promotion. But that can also predispose gay men to certain risk behaviours.

‘One such example is the consumption of illicit drugs such as ecstasy, crystal methamphetamine (meth) and GHB,’ APCOM said in a statement.

‘Often, these recreational drugs are consumed to enhance the pleasure of sexual activity, which is referred to as chemsex or high-fun (hi-fun).’

But many studies have show that MSM who engage in chemsex also reported less use of condoms during sex. That leads to increased sexual risk-taking, increased episodes of STIs and increased risk for HIV infection. Also, gay men living with HIV who engage in chemsex are at higher risk for missing anti-retroviral treatment doses.

So to combat this, testBKK developed ‘non-judgemental, non-coercive harm reduction information resources’. The resources in Thai language help men in reduce drug-associated harm. They also encourage them to access HIV testing, prevention, and treatment services.

How to Organise Safer Chemsex Parties

Since its launch in November, the two main information hubs have had more than 65,000 online visitors.

testBKK will also soon release harm reduction PSA video and ‘How to Organise Safer Chemsex Party’ booklet this month.

“testBKK’s existing and upcoming chemsex-related harm reduction resources are aspired to contribute to more Thai MSM who use drugs having access to essential information to reduce potential harms and being empowered to seek HIV-related health-seeking behaviour,’ said APCOM executive director Midnight Poonkasetwattana.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) was one of several organizations that supported the new resource.

‘testBKK’s harm reduction resources can potentially be a model for other organisations in Thailand and in the region to consider producing more community-based harm reduction interventions to other marginalised population in the future,’ said EJAF’s  Thomas Brigden.