Integrating Community-led Harm Reduction services and Sexualized Drug Use for LGBTQI community in the Asia Pacific region: Strategies for Implementation

By May 12, 2023 Advocacy, Newsroom, Regional

The trend of ‘Chemsex’ among MSM, especially among the young age group, is seen in different countries in Asia. Scale up in HIV testing and prevention programs are required. We must broaden the HIV services and provide testing and prevention options for MSM especially those who engage in ‘chemsex’. The rising trend of sexualised drug use among MSM and new HIV rates call for the urgency of integrating HIV services and mental health.

Community-led organisations and community-led service delivery providers play an important role in addressing the issue of ‘chemsex’ at country level. To identify specific needs of CBOs, APCOM gathered challenges in service delivery vis-a-vis ‘chemsex’ from the perspectives of the community. Understanding drug use and potential harms which can be prevented or avoided related to the use of chems is another important component to safer chemsex. This requires community-led organisations equipping themselves with strategies that will prevent unintended risks such as management of acute intoxication, overdose prevention and information around risks linked to poly-drug use. There is also a need to strengthen community advocacy of the partners for community-led distribution of combination HIV prevention in consideration of emerging issues on ‘chemsex’.

However, services catered to the needs of sexualised drug use at country-level remains limited, and this session aims to: 

  • Learning of tools in the region for integrating community-led services, and also for health providers for sexualized drug use 
  • Hear from the government, community and practitioners in the region on barriers for country-based programming
  • Forming an advocacy agenda for programming 


18:00 – 18:30Guests arriving and registration 
18:30 – 18:45(15 mins)WelcomeDr Judy Tang (she/her), Board Advisor, ANTRA Midnight (he/him), Executive Director, APCOM, Thailand Karen Peters, (she/her), Regional Drugs and Health Programme Officer, UNODC, Thailand
18:45 – 19:15(30 mins)Introduction to tools available in the region:-    ASHM for health providers-    APCOM present A Guide for Program Planners in Key Population Led HIV/Sexual Health Programs in Southeast Asia Q&A Chaired by Karen Peters, (she/her), Regional Drugs and Health Programme Officer, UNODC, Thailand Dr Marcel Kalau (he/him), Australasian Society For HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHMIC) Midnight (he/him), Executive Director, APCOM, Thailand 
19:15 – 19:35(20 mins)Gaining political will and implementing harm reduction interventions in the Region Dr. Nguyen Thi Minh Tam (she/her), Head of Prevention Department, Vietnam Administration of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health (VAAC/MOH) Susie McLean (she/her), Senior Advisor, HIV Prevention, HIV Team, GFATM Q&A Chaired by Midnight (he/him), Executive Director, APCOM, Thailand 
19:35 – 20:00(25 mins)Opportunities for integrating harm reduction into HIV programming targeting chemsex users  Learn from countries in the region on issues to overcome in order to provide comprehensive services targeted at sexualized drug use Moderated by Karen Peters, (she/her), Regional Drugs and Health Programme Officer, UNODC, Thailand  Doan Tung (he/him), Executive Director, Lighthouse, Vietnam Thissadee Sawangying (she/her), Executive Director, HON, Thailand Yasir Ali Khan (he/him), Founder, HIV Buddies, Pakistan 
20:00 – 20:15(15 mins) Reflections and ClosingAlexander Teh (he/him)
PresidentAustralian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council Inc Quinten Lataire (he/him)Human Rights and Law AdviserUNAIDS Regional Support TeamAsia and the Pacific Ann Fordham (she/her)Executive DirectorIDPC  
20:15 – 22:00Photos and Reception at the Forum 



TestBKK is a community-led initiative of APCOM to encourage gay men, men who have sex with men to get tested and access HIV services through online and social media in Thailand. TestBKK provides information on sexual health, living with HIV, accessing prevention and treatment services, distribution of prevention packages, as well as topical information for the community to make the most informed choices.

TestBKK launches harm reduction resources for Thai MSM

Resources include:

“Safer Hi-Fun” Guidance, which provides a Q&A-formatted advice to avoid and reduce health and safety risks when engaging in a chemsex

Alcohol and Drugs Information Hub, which contains facts and figures on 15 different substances known to be used among Thai people. The information includes the substances’ effects, interactions among different substances and with the antiretroviral medications, safety and health cautions, as well as lists of support and counselling services. Crystal meth, ketamine, GHB, ecstasy, poppers – the popular substances to be used for chemsex in Thailand.

TestBKK also sends out prevention party package to those that are planning group fun, which they can order online, and the package include leaflet containing a QR code for them to access harm reduction resources on the TestBKK website and to promote the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxes which can be an added prevention option as well. 

It is also important to profile the community experiences on chemsex:

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