Taiwan held Asia’s first symposium on chemsex this weekend. Experts from six different countries gathered in TaoYuan to discuss sexualized drug use among gay and bisexual men. Chemsex, the mixing of illegal drugs and sex also known as party and play, can lead to drug addiction and unsafe sex, increasing the risk of sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Organizer Dr. Stephane Ku said Taiwan was leading the region in tackling the phenomenon. 'I think Taiwan serves has a very unique position, we have support from the ministry of health’ he said. The symposium, attended by psychiatrists, infectious diseases doctors, and LGBTI community workers was 'a great opportunity for Taiwan to stand out as a leader in this issue to focus on it and to solve this problem,’ in Ku's opinion. Representatives from Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong presented on Saturday at the Novotel, Taoyuan.
Deputy Director of Department of Public Health, Taoyuan, Po-Wen Su also attended. ‘I hope we could provide more possibilities of strategies against drug addiction through various working experiences from governments and NGOs in different countries, so that we may reduce the harm of chemsex to the young group of people, and make the policy of drug abuse prevention in Taiwan much more comprehensive’ Su said.
Ku said between five to 25% of gay and bisexual men regionally engage in chemsex. In Taiwan, it is nine or 10%, according to a 2017 survey. He said the majority of chemsex users use crystal methamphetamine. ‘It is highly addictive and can cause mental and physical harm’ Ku said. One of the study’s published at the symposium revealed one third of crystal meth users had problematic use.Ku said the symposium was so successful as it brought together professionals from different disciplines. He said it also showed to regional attendees the importance of government support in tackling chemsex. He hopes the next edition of the symposium can bring more users and ex-users to share their experiences of intervention and treatment.
William Fairman and Max Gogart’s 2015 documentary Chemsex depicted the phenomenon in London, UK.
Author: Rik Glauert