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Assessment of chemsex scene in South African townships

OUT Well-being is a South African NGO that provides stigma-free HIV and other health services to gay, bisexual, and MSM communities. Together with the OUT field team, Mainline will pilot a community-led assessment to gather information on how best to offer harm reduction, HIV, and health services to (trans)men, residing in townships of major South African cities, who engage in chemsex.

south africa chemsex townships

Newly emerging chemsex scene

In recent years, OUT Well-being has identified a new chemsex scene that differs from the more known “middle-class” chemsex scene. This newly emerging scene consists of (trans) men (and sometimes women) who engage in chemsex and reside in the townships of significant cities in South Africa. The chemsex events occur in private houses run as informal brothels. The men who come to these houses to serve clients’ needs live in vulnerable, low socio-economic circumstances. Often homeless and with limited means to generate an income, the priorities of these men center around daily survival.

Objectives for this assignment

OUT Well-being in South Africa has pioneered several HIV-oriented interventions for men in the chemsex scene. However, the complex needs and circumstances of the men that OUT encounters recently seem to demand different and innovative approaches. OUT reached out to Mainline to work together on the following objectives:

  1. To assess and better understand the needs and priorities of men in the chemsex scene in the townships of Jo’Burg;
  2. To create more awareness among (HIV) donors and other (governmental and non-governmental) stakeholders around the complex needs of men in the chemsex scene in the townships of Jo’Burg and around drug use in a sexualized setting in general.

You can request more information about this project via Ancella Voets.

Get in contact with Ancella Voets


Are your interested to learn more about chemsex and evidence-based responses to support men who encounter problems with sex and drugs? Feel free to contact us via or check out our selection of training courses on chemsex.

Support and finance

This project is funded via OUT wellbeing.