12 Apr, 2016
12 April 2016 (Bangkok) APCOM media release – During Thailand’s festive Songkran Festival, which runs from 13 to 15 April each year, Bangkok has been hosting Songkran celebration exclusively catered to gay men. In addition to the city’s pink districts being a magnet for gay locals and tourists, the City of Angels is eminently known for hosting gCircuit SK, a series of day pool parties and evening rave events over a course of three days, frequently praised as Asia’s largest gay rave party.
TestBKK, APCOM’s Bangkok-based HIV testing and sexual health campaign, is therefore once again equipping the city with both onsite and online outreach activities during the festive season. Funded by Elton John AIDS Foundation and the USAID LINKAGES Project managed by FHI 360, TestBKK aims to deliver free HIV testing to the gay individuals who are celebrating Songkran in Bangkok as well as to provide them with other key sexual health knowledge such as information relating to PrEP and PEP.
Young people aged under 25 comprise over 40% of new HIV infections worldwide. TestBKK’s campaign directly targets young gay men who are avid users of online platforms and are often at highest risk for HIV, but not necessarily have been reached by traditional outreach campaign. TestBKK is confident that its Songkran campaign and partnership will stimulate interest and action on protecting sexual health among young gay men – locals and foreigners – during the country’s most festive season.
With the success of the recent positive sexual health-themed web series GAYOK BANGKOK launched in March, TestBKK has secured a pool of followers of more than 60,000 gay audiences, in which 70% of them are living in Bangkok, through its Facebook page and YouTube channel. TestBKK’s Songkran online campaign, which runs from 11th to 29th April, is undoubtedly more strategic and effective than any previous online sexual health campaigns ever run in the city. The online touchpoints include social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and dating apps such as Hornet and Grindr, which are notably Thailand’s largest and world’s biggest gay-oriented geo-socio app, respectively.
In addition to the online campaign, TestBKK has collaborated with two private gay-friendly clinics that remain open in regular work hours of both weekdays and weekend, while most of the sexual health clinics in town are closed during and following the Songkran week. The collaboration will, therefore, ensure the accessibility of HIV testing, PEP, and PrEP among the gay individuals in Bangkok throughout the holiday period.
TestBKK also once more collaborated with gCircuit organiser in ensuring that the partygoers are ushered by key HIV knowledge and preventive kits. gCircuit SK is running its 10th year this year. Many gay men from all over Asia consider gCircuit as their bucket list. Each year alone, gGircuit has been attended by at least 10,000 visitors.
The year 2016 is expected to mark gCircuit’s biggest party within its history. TestBKK’s engaging booth will be disseminating condoms and water-based lubricants as well as leaflets relating to sex-positive health information, PEP and PrEP. For the first time, TestBKK will erect a popup sexual health clinic within the venue to provide free, confidential and anonymous HIV rapid testing for the party attendees. The clinic will also ensure the linkages across the continuum of HIV services following up each test result.
APCOM’s regional city-based HIV testing campaign in cities with high HIV prevalence among MSM, aims to increase the uptake of HIV testing among the young cohort of the population (i.e., YMSM). Bangkok-based TestBKK is the TestXXX’s pilot campaign and is currently running its second year.
TestBKK has also been a communication partner of the 2016 edition of The Annual Sex and Pleasure Survey (ASAP) conducted by APCOM, Mahidol University and University of Amsterdam.
To learn more about TestBKK’s Songkran Campaign, go to TestBKK.org/Songkran