NEWSROOM April 30, 2019

TestBKK’s New Approaches to Thai MSM who Use Drugs

After launching “Safter Hi-fun” page“Alcohol and Drugs” Microsite, and “How to Organise Safer Chemsex Party” Bookleton testBKK.org website in the last year, testBKK, APCOM’s flagship HIV testing campaign to young gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in Bangkok, has stepped up to experiment new ways to approach Thai MSM who use drugs with combinations of offline and online strategies.

Supported by International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)and partnering with OZONE Foundation, testBKK has produced harm reduction resources postcard which contains URL links for the harm reduction resources on testBKK.org website, an HIV testing online booking platform, and OZONE Foundation’s contact for further harm reduction services. The postcard will be inserted in Party Pack, a pack of condoms and water-based lubes, that can be ordered by and delivered for free to MSM who participate in group sex or chemsex sessions. 

In 2018, testBKK disseminated over 2,000 boxes of Party Pack, equal to more than 30,000 pieces of condoms and water-based lubes given away. By distributing the harm reduction postcard through Party Pack, the campaign hopes to gain awareness on online harm reduction resources among MSM who use drugs, especially those who are not familiar with testBKK’s online presences, and to lead them to access existing harm reduction resources and HIV-related services accordingly.

Moreover, on 5 April 2019, testBKK undertook a focus group discussion, also funded by IDPC, with a group of Thai MSM who engage in chemsex session to find out their background experiences, thoughts and needs on harm reduction resources and to identify what influences them in reaching chemsex-related harm reduction resources in term of channels and advertising contents. 

Key findings from the focus group stress the need of factual and scientific harm reduction resources and non-judgmental health care services among Thai MSM who participate in chemsex and recreational drug use. Many MSM who use drugs seek information on drug use through anonymous online channels, personal chemsex peers and/or close medical professional friends and refuse to receive medical treatment in hospitals when they encounter life-threatening conditions during chemsex sessions because they are afraid of being caught and forced to enter rehabilitation courses which will affect their career. In order to promote the harm reduction resources to the target group, the campaign needs to choose the right channel and carefully design promotional contents both in terms of graphics and languages. 

The outcomes of the focus group will be utilised to create advertising campaigns for testBKK’s existing chemsex-related harm reduction resources expected to be launched in May 2019.

testBKK will also soon release a chemsex-related harm reduction PSA video, funded by Elton John Foundation (EJAF), in May 2019. The video, which incorporated the concept testing with a group of young Thai MSM who engage in chemsex, is expected to help build awareness and to lead the audience to get to know and learn how to safely participate in a chemsex session by exploring testBKK’s harm reduction resources on testBKK.org website.