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Drugs, Viruses, Gender: Concerns about Chemsex Raise As Covid Closes LGBT + Bars in Thailand

 


Beam, a gay sex worker, went to a “chem sex” party about once a month. Coronavirus pandemic Close Thai bars and clubs. But since then, drug-fueled rallies have become much more frequent.

As Thailand tackles the third wave of COVID-19, campaign participants warn of the health risks posed by the apparent increase in chemsex-mainly gay and bisexual men crystallized. Unprotected sex is common, gathering to take medications such as scalpels and GHB.

Beam, 34, who also works as a pornographic actor and meets clients regularly at parties, said the rally became more popular due to changes in the day-to-day operations of the blocked people.

“Now is a great opportunity for party attendees,” Beam told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, asking him not to give his full name to protect his identity.

According to campaign participants, Chemsex users are at risk of drug addiction, overdose, and mental health problems, and Thai media recently reported on Chemsex-related violence, including physical assault. going.

As in other parts of the world where authorities have expressed concern about this phenomenon, parties are widely promoted on gay dating apps such as Twitter, Blued and Grindr.

LGBT + NGO President Nikorn Chimkong told Bangkok Rainbow Organization that chemsex is “now a new common sense” and inquiries about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) anti-HIV drugs are on the rise.

He said about 30 or 40 people a month contact the group every month to ask about the drug, which is a once-daily pill that prevents people from getting infected with the virus today.

This is comparable to less than 10 before the pandemic, he said, with the majority taking pills before the Kimeseku party.

Lack of support

Three current and former Chemsex party participants, and experts supporting users, Thai public health providers lack the knowledge needed to support those seeking help with the use of Chemsex. Said.

Elsewhere in Asia, there are no harm reduction programs that simultaneously address the risks of substance use and the sexual activity of gay and bisexual men and transgender women. A recent report by APCOM, a gay and bimen health advocacy group, was found.

In Europe, where studies in the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands found that 30-45% of gays and bimen were engaged in chemsex at least once, doctors said in 2019 that this practice would be in urban areas. Warned that it is fueling the HIV epidemic.

Earlier this year, the UK raised penalties for GHB after two high-profile trials. One of them detailed the use of drugs in the rape of nearly 50 men.

In Thailand, where gay sex and drug use are widely disliked, people seeking help with the chemsex problem are often reluctant to seek help for fear of being stigmatized, campaign participants said. It was.

Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director of APCOM, said:

“These are the groups that must be serviced to reduce the risk of HIV.”

Assault, overdose

One of the places we offer support is KRUBB Bangkok, a gay social club and community center. The center opened about nine months ago and offers gay men chemsex counseling services.

Sergeant Shaowpicha Techo, a psychologist at the Bangkok Health Center who also sees patients at KRUBB, said he was seeing up to 12 patients a week compared to one or two before the pandemic.

Although there are no official statistics on chemsex in Thailand, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration states that up to 90% of gay and bisexual men who use healthcare services have experimented with chemsex. Most are 20 to 40 years old.

Anggoon Patarakorn, deputy director of the government’s Princess Mother National Institute of Substance Abuse, said he was unaware of the surge in chemsex during the pandemic, but admitted that authorities did not yet have expertise in the matter.

“We haven’t given any special priorities (to this group) at this time, but we may focus more in the future,” he said.

The Royal Thai Police Drug Enforcement Administration declined to comment.

A news report of assault and fatal overdose at a chemsex party encouraged a group of campaign participants to form a network called a safety net in June last year to support chemsex users.

We are also working on first aid for users, such as advice on overdose, with the aim of raising awareness among civil servants and medical professionals.

Arthur, a 32-year-old actor and model who asked to be identified by nickname alone, said he had less work during the pandemic and, as a result, frequently attended chemsex parties.

However, regular drug use has hurt his mental health and he is currently helping the safety net in search of treatment.

“I hurt myself (by disconnection) and tried many suicide attempts in the past,” he said. “About five of my friends died from drugs … and now I want to help others.”

This story was published from a news agency feed without changing the text. Only the heading has changed.

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