A NEW website providing information on drug use in the LGBTI community has been launched, highlighting the specific experiences faced by sexual and gender diverse people.

TouchBase was created as a resource on drugs and places them in the context of mental and sexual health by using personal stories from those in the community.

It was launched by the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) in partnership with the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and the Australian Drug Foundation.

VAC chief executive Simon Ruth said there was information specific to the LGBTI community around drugs that the site aims to address.

“There are specific things we need to be aware of, such as the interactions that drugs might have with HIV medications or hormones for gender diverse people,” he told the Star Observer.

“Straight people don’t discuss this as openly as we do and talk about the risks associated but because the LGBTI community uses drugs at higher rates we need to be much more conscious about them.”

The site provides targeted information on drug use, mental health, and sexual health, helping to address the gaps in information for LGBTI people.

According to a recent Sydney survey of nearly 3000 men, 38 per cent indicated that they engaged in recreational drug use.

Harm Reduction Victoria president Bill O’Loughlin believes TouchBase gives a much-needed voice to drug use in the community.

“Drug use has been a part of the LGBTI community for a long time, it’s been a part of how we socialise, have sex, and yet there’s been a lot of silence around it,” he told the Star Observer.

“The beauty of this resource is that our community organisations have framed it in our terms, and it’s really comprehensive, from cigarettes and injecting to sex and support for people in trouble.

“It’s framed in a very normal, non-judgemental way.”

As an area O’Loughlin has worked closely in, he said he was pleased at how large the project is.

“We’ve been talking with LGBTI community organisations for a couple of years about raising issues around drug use in LGBTI communities and there’s been a neglect of it for a long time,” he said.

“[TouchBase] ranges across a whole pile of issues on the taboos around drug using and it breaks those taboos.”

Earlier this week Living Positive Victoria and The Institute of Many (TIM) launched Turning Tina, a four-part online series that focuses on gay, bi and trans men living with HIV who use crystal meth.

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