Locally grounded, transnationally queer: an interdisciplinary multi-method approach to understanding 'hi-fun' and other sexualised drug use cultures and support strategies for men who have sex with men in Thailand

Year of award: 2022


  • Dr T Charles Witzel

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

Sexualised drug use (SDU) refers to using drugs before/during sex. 'Hi-fun' in Thailand ('chemsex' in Western settings) is the intentional use of specific substances (for example, methamphetamine, GHB/GBL) to prolong sex with multiple partners. Men-who-have-sex-with-men's (MSM) sexualised drug use is a global public health concern because of its negative impacts on wellbeing, mental and sexual health.

MSM sexualised drug use is increasingly visible in Thailand, where unique sociocultural/political environments shape sexual cultures and harms. Research investigating the diversity of sexualised drug use practices, who experiences which harms and which groups might benefit from support is urgently required.

Focus groups will explore boundaries between hi-fun and other sexualised drug use. Systematic mapping will identify potential interventions. Online surveys of MSM engaged in sexualised drug use (n=1000+) will examine behavioural patterns, harms and intervention acceptability. In-depth interviews and diaries will explore sexualised drug use accounts; data will be interwoven with survey latent class analysis, producing innovative, mixed-methods grounded theory, informed by transnational queer sociology, exploring how economic growth, globalisation, criminalisation and pleasure shape sexualised drug use cultures. Finally, workshops will synthesise findings with the COM-B model of behaviour change, co-developing a care framework supporting service provision.

This interdisciplinary multi-method research will transform understanding of how social and economic forces shape sexualised drug use cultures and co-develop innovative support strategies for men-who-have-sex-with-men engaged in sexualised drug use in Thailand.