Lighthouse recently attended the International Harm Reduction Conference 2023 in Melbourne, Australia, from April 14th to 19th. Throughout the conference, we participated in various sessions, and learned from and exchanged experiences with global partners about harm reduction interventions, policy advocacy, and reducing discrimination against drug users. Since 2019, Lighthouse has been working with the Chemsex community (people who use drugs for sexual purposes) by conducting the first research in Vietnam to understand the characteristics, culture, and forms of the Chemsex community in Vietnam. We identified interlayer barriers and community needs as a result of this. This was also used to develop the “PrEPare for Chemsex” and “High, Fun & Safe” intervention projects to raise community awareness of drugs, their effects, and harm reduction methods. These projects provide the community with harm reduction equipment, self-care materials, and essential health and social services such as HIV/AIDS and PrEP.
The experiences we gained from practical activities were documented in an abstract accepted at the conference. We also presented our intervention results at the “Meet the experts: Stigma Reduction” session organised by Gilead, the “Integrating Community-led Harm Reduction services and Sexualized Drug Use for LGBTQI community in the Asia Pacific region: Strategies for Implementation” session organised by APCOM and UNODC, and the “Building solidarity and integrated Chemsex/High Fun/PnP services in your locale/region: Integrated services for chemsex” workshop organised by ReShape. This was a fantastic opportunity for us to share our knowledge and experiences in Vietnam while also learning from international colleagues and bringing initiatives to the community.
We strongly commit to continuing to work to implement new initiatives and interventions, provide practical evidence, and advocate to reduce discrimination, decriminalise, and increase support services for the Chemsex/Highfun community in Vietnam.
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