BMA launches local community centre
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has jointly launched a new facility with an LGBTQ+ organisation to help treat drug users among the LGBTQ+ community and protect them from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The Community-based Treatment and Rehabilitation and Harm Reduction Center, or CBTx & HR Center, was officially opened on Thursday by the BMA’s Health Department and the Rainbow Sky Association’s Ramkhamhaeng branch technical clinic.
It provides treatment, consultations, and rehabilitation for LGBTQ+ people who are intravenous drug users to help wean them off their addiction and reduce the risk of them overdosing or contracting STIs.
Danai Linjongrat, director of the Rainbow Sky Association, said in the first nine months of this year, they assisted 216 gay men who are injection drug users (IDU).
Some 201 gave blood tests and 20 were found to be HIV positive result. They are all now receiving treatment. The association also administered PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) tablets to 54 of them to prevent them from catching HIV in the future.
“After working with this target group, we found there are many areas in need of further development and cooperation between the government and our network,” Mr Danai said.
“We are now collaborating with the BMA’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment office to provide services to assist drug users in the LGBTQ+ community.”
Kittinun Daramadhaj, president of the association, said the new centre aims to reduce the harmful circumstances associated with drug abuse using a more tailored, practical and community-based approach.
With the collaboration of the government as well as civic groups, the centre plans to develop a more inclusive mechanism to support and rehabilitate drug addicts, including counselling and legal support.
Tanach Pohphisutthipong, director of the BMA’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Office, said the HIV rate among intravenous drug users in the gay community has jumped 10% this year.
“We need to provide a service to help them reduce the harmful consequences of drug abuse,” he said. “So our office decided to allow this association to launch this clinic that will pioneer a community-based harm-reduction approach to serving drug users in the LGBTQ+ community.”