Task Force



While crystal methamphetamine, known as Tina in the gay community, is not a new drug, there was growing concern about its use in Toronto by 2004. Increasing media reports from American cities and reports from outreach volunteers from Toronto AIDS Service Organizations led the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) to host a public forum on the subject. This event, ‘Is Tina Crashing the Party?’ included a former user, a neuropharmacologist, an addictions counsellor, a local reporter and ACT staff. The forum triggered community discussion, attracted media attention, and increased communication between various organizations that were dealing with the health of gay men in Toronto.

After the forum in November 2004, ACT counselling staff saw an increase in clients coming in to talk about their crystal meth use. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) also reported an increase in gay men coming in for treatment through their Rainbow Services Program. There was growing media attention about the use of crystal meth across various communities throughout America. In response to increasing community concern, (sometimes inaccurate) media attention, and incomplete data, ACT applied to Health Canada for funding to develop an awareness campaign and research project.

ACT also invited representatives from other agencies, concerned individuals, and businesses to form a task force to share information and develop a consensus-based response. The group began. The group began meeting on a monthly basis in April, 2005. We called ourselves the Toronto Gay/Bi men’s Crystal Meth Task Force.

The Task Force produced an info card with risk reduction tips in June 2005 with a grant from the city of Toronto’s Public Health department. ACT’s proposal received funding from Health Canada in October, 2005. A second community forum was produced. ‘Since Tina Moved Out’ held in November, 2005 was a moderated panel discussion with 3 ex-users. The event was standing room only and encouraged us in our belief that people in our community were interested in information and experiences from guys who use Tina.

In January, 2006 work began in earnest mapping out both the education campaign and research project. Subgroups were formed for these components. The Task Force continued to meet monthly. It was decided to join both elements in a web based a year long awareness campaign including an online research survey. The comprehensive research results will provide information about use and needs in our communities, and can be fed back into the campaign as well as measure it’s efficacy.

The primary target of our campaign is men who are combining Tina with sex and hooking up online to meet. The centrepiece of the campaign is a comprehensive web resource that includes information for non-users, users, people affected by other people’s use, and ex-users. The slogan ‘Information, Interaction, Inspiration,’ summarizes our approach. A variety of media and formats are used to increase awareness and direct people to