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 HiMyNameIsTina.com.