Andrey Rylkov Foundation* (Moscow) has been involved in harm reduction in the gay / MSM community for several years. In the fall of 2020, Chemical Protection was launched - a project aimed at MSM / gay men who use psychoactive substances and are engaged in chemsex.
The project was created to interact with members of the gay / MSM community, as well as with specialists from medical organizations and friendly NGOs who work with these participants. It was planned to create a series of interventions related to harm reduction, education, prevention of HIV and other STIs.
For these purposes, a mini-grant was requested from the Outreach Coalition. A work plan was drawn up, which included the following points:
- creation of various information materials for community members and specialists;
- online interventions, implying the development of the foundation's online presence, the provision of online consultations;
- organization and holding of events aimed at supporting chemsex users;
- buying and distributing condoms among participants.
The bulk of the work was carried out from November 2020 to March 2021.
A gay-friendly psychologist was found who specializes in working with addictions. A support group has been created, which takes place in several formats, including group therapy with this psychologist. Also, the foundation's social worker once a month conducts a training / seminar for participants on the tools of the Smart Recovery system.
The foundation has developed its work online. A private Telegram community was created for men who practice chemsex with other men. The community is moderated by the fund's social worker and psychologist. The fund's social worker regularly provided online consultations to MSM practicing chemsex. He also conducted initial interviews online, referred people to a psychologist, etc. Recently, an open channel of the project was created, it is planned to develop it, including an agreement on advertising with a popular system for gay dating.
Condoms and lubricants were purchased for the participants of the foundation's programs, which are distributed in the office, in groups / seminars, and during offline outreach.
An agreement was reached on cooperation with the popular gay / queer party Popoff Kitchen. Foundation employees attended several events and conducted outreach there: distributed condoms and lubricant, did tests for HIV and hepatitis C, consulted on STIs, harm reduction, PrEP, etc.
A designer was hired to develop a logo and a series of designs for the project for social media and print production. Then the representatives of the foundation turned to the printing house, where they printed various materials (business cards with information about the harm reduction project, information leaflets about PrEP, HIV testing reminders, flyers with information about the support group, etc.). Information materials are planned to be distributed, including through friendly NGOs and medical organizations (for example, H-Clinic in Moscow).
During implementation of the project, a permanent harm reduction project in the context of chemsex for MSM was created. This is the only project of its kind in Moscow. Dozens of people (about 30 unique visitors) came to the support group. About 20 people receive online consultations every month. More than a hundred people are covered by offline outreach.
The project requires active scaling and development. The Coalition's mini-grant helped the foundation take the first and very important step in this direction.
*in Russia, the foundation is included in the register of NGOs allegedly performing the functions of a "foreign agent".