METHODS: We conducted 30 semi-structured in-depth interviews with self-identifying GBMSM between the ages of 18-39 in Singapore following a purposive sampling strategy. Interview topics included participants' perceptions of drug use among GBMSM in Singapore, perceptions towards chemsex, reasons for drug use and chemsex, and recommendations to address the harms associated with chemsex in Singapore. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, coded, and analysed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Participants reported that it was common to encounter chemsex among GBMSM in Singapore as it could be easily accessed or initiated using social networking phone apps. Enhancement and prolongation of sexual experiences, fear of rejection from sexual partners and peers, and its use as a means of coping with societal rejection were three main reasons cited for engaging in chemsex. The impact of punitive drug laws on disclosure and stigmatisation of GBMSM who use drugs were reported to be key barriers towards addressing chemsex. Participants suggested using gay-specific commercial venues as avenues for awareness and educational campaigns, and social media to reach out to younger GBMSM.
CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the complexities behind chemsex use among GBMSM in Singapore, and the range of individual to institutional factors to be addressed. We recommend that community-based organisations and policy-makers find ways to destigmatise discussion of chemsex and provide safe spaces to seek help for drug use.