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AIDS 2012 Conference Review

AIDS 2012 banner
Surving, Stories & Stigma
I came to Washington for AIDS 2012 hoping to learn from the many sessions as well as meet other's who have joined the global effort to end HIV/AIDS. While I was exposed to a diversity of panels and sessions from around the globe showcasing the hard work of individuals from all walks of life that have inspired me to continue to be an advocate, what touched me the most were the personal stories that I found throughout the conference. Stories of love, of life, and of birth, and of death. Stories of health and illness, and so many stories of survival. Some stories were accompanied by photographs or art , some were in movies screened in the Global Village. Others were not accompanied by any imagery. The words laid bare yet ever still so powerful.

As I stopped to read these stories and consider them each individually, a noticed a theme among them that I could not ignore. While many people living with HIV or AIDS continued to live productive lives, engaging in a number projects and working relentlessly in their communities, I was troubled by re occurring commonalities- discrimination, isolation, and stigma. As it was well put in the Thursday performance Music and Musings from the Life of a 27 year Survivor, many of the everyday social barriers that people living with HIV/AIDS face constitute “components for an extremely lonely existence”.

I could not help but wonder why it was that as we joined hands during this one week in Washington, making promises not only to ourselves, but to future generations, that loneliness from isolation due to social discrimination still pervaded the daily experiences of positive peoples. And for this reason I believe that we must continue in our efforts to develop not only more scientific advancements, but also engage the media in providing more educational messages concerning HIV/AIDS while highlighting the very really harms of stigma. We must make it up to personally each and every one of us to de-mystify and lessen the fears associated with HIV/AIDS.

By coupling scientific with social goals that promote equity, acceptance and compassion, we can foster a sense of community that has the potential to take us above and beyond. From the depth of my heart, I want to thank all of those who shared or contributed in the sharing of stories that have greatly changed my perspective.
 
-- Yamina Sara Chekroun (YouthRISE worker, former TRIP! Outreach Worker)  
 
 
Yamina Sara presenting TRIP! at AIDS 2012 
Yamina Sara Chekroun presenting at AIDS 2012 Conference
 
From the youthAIDS2012 website
Youth Force Declaration for Change
Youth Force Declaration for Change infographic 
 
Top 10 ideas
All young people have the right to sexual and reproductive health services that are accessible, available, safe, affordable, quality-approved, youth-friendly and adapted to their specific needs.

Meaningful youth participation at all levels of decision-making is crucial in the development of effective SRHR and HIV programmes; participation must include not only those with resources but also those on the ground levels.

We demand ACCESS to youth-friendly prevention, treatment, care and support services for all young people, including young people living with HIV, so that our right to the highest attainable standard of health may be achieved.

Comprehensive and appropriate information about HIV should be accessible to all young people including those with disabilities, in & out of schools, migrants & those living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

We demand increased funding for research that focuses on HIV among young people addressing not only prevalence rates but also lifestyles and behavioral patterns, risk factors and other areas needed for HIV response.

Increase ACCESS to financial & technical support that strengthens youth organizations and youth led initiatives to increase our impact in the HIV response, by creating mechanisms that assure money transfers down to the ground.

We demand universal access to sexual and reproductive health integrated services that includes the specific needs of women and girls, respecting their human rights and an emphasis on equity and respect for diversity.

Eliminate social, cultural and political barriers in accessing health services among young people by making interventions gender and age-responsive, rights-based, and sexual orientation and gender identity-inclusive.

We demand more support for capacity building programs that empower youth and enable them to participate effectively in policy making especially concerning areas that affect them like environment, health and rights.

We demand PROTECTION by the law. We must not be criminalized because of our sexual orientation and gender identity, drug use, HIV status, disability and/or sex work.

You can check out all the ideas and more information on the project site.

RC Watch vol 1, issue 2 // What RCs has Toronto seen the most of so far?

 
(Check out our previous introductory post on research chems for more background info.)
 
Here's a list of some of the trends we've seen to date in Toronto, but we're going to keep you posted on what we know is happening with Research chems locally.  If you have any questions about RCs that you'd like to know more about, or if you have noticed any emerging RC trends, please get in touch with us at info@tripproject.ca or by approaching any of our volunteers.
 
MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone)
aka "super coke"
Despite the nickname, this substance is chemically unrelated to cocaine and produces significantly different effects: it is a (much) longer-term stimulant that is better compared to speed.  While the branding helped initial sales of this substance, many users who experimented with it based on liking cocaine found themselves experiencing negative effects (generally due to the length and strong emotional levels of the high).  MDPV is a common ingredient in “bath salts” formulations sold online and via head shops.  As with any stimulant, prolonged and repeated use can result in users staying up for days in a row, potentially impairing cognitive judgement and producing delusional and paranoid mental states, i.e. psychosis. 
 
MCAT (Mephedrone)
aka "max volume" (local), "meow meow" (UK)
Mephedrone was developed in the UK and distributed quite cheaply, quickly gaining popularity amongst youth at a time when more common drugs like E became increasingly scarce.  Use has declined as more and more negative side-effects are reported, including decreased sexual ability in males, apparently high abuse potential and (in the case of some heavier chronic users) health problems including vasoconstriction leading to vein collapse.  Media scare reports in the UK and underground anti-Mephedrone campaigns emerged as use spread, it became increasingly uncool to be known as a user of the drug, and laws were tightened.  Chemical manufacturing companies marketing RCs in the UK have since made a point of pricing their new substances (like MXE) much higher so as to avoid the same explosion of underage use and the negative media attention that was associated with it.
 
2C* (2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-E and related molecules, as well as 2C-T-2, 2C-T-7, etc)
While these substances have existed for decades, being first synthesized and described by Alexander Shulgin in PiHKAL in the 1970/80s, they have had much more limited distribution and use until quite recently.  Now these phenethylamine psychedelics have began appearing in place of MDMA/E and in some cases LSD (not on blotter, which isn't large enough to contain an active amount of these substances, but in small microdot pills).  This is despite the fact that the effects differ quite a bit from MDMA/MDA - these psychedelics tend to be longer-lasting, more hallucinogenic, less euphoric, less empathogenic, more physically uncomfortable, more anxiety-producing and more likely to produce introverted states in social situations.
 
Important to note is that the 2C*s are much more potent than MDMA, especially when snorted, and anyone who is used to snorting MDMA or E pills should be very cautious with new batches because of the chance of an unpleasantly strong psychedelic trip if they have actually been given 2C*s.
As well, the related but separate 2C-T-* group has a particular warning attached to it, as 2C-T-7 has been linked to accidental lethal overdoses in experimental users (even ones who knew exactly what they were consuming), especially in those users who have been snorting rather than eating the drugs. More information can be found at http://www.erowid.org/ask/ask.php?ID=2175 (this link is over a decade old, so doesn't discuss many of the newer RCs).
 
MXE (Methoxetamine)
MXE is a ketamine derivative that was developed in the UK in 2010 with the specific intent of being distributed on the "grey market" in place of K, which was facing stiffer and stiffer legal controls in many countries.  Although many users experimenting with MXE have sought it out based on the hope that it is similar to K, most users report the effects as being more comparable to opiates.
It has been advertised as being "bladder friendly" and was designed in an attempt to avoid the bladder damage issues that have been reported by heavy, chronic ketamine users.  Being sold in the wake of the UK's mephedrone wave, distribution was originally done at a higher price than necessary in order to limit the speed at which the substance spread.  Despite the initial promise of "a safer ketamine," overdose deaths have since been reported and lawmakers are quickly moving to enact bans on the substance.  Russia and Switzerland have banned MXE since late 2011, and the UK rushed through a temporary ban while they wait to get around to discussing a permanent ban.  In Canada, MXE may be considered illegal based on PCP analogue laws - updates on this as we learn them.
 
PMA/PMMA (para-Methoxyamphetamine/para-Methoxymethamphetamine)
Two related but different amphetamine-class drugs, PMA and PMMA have increasingly appeared in place of E/MDMA and (in the case of PMA) LSD.
PMA acts as a psychedelic without being particularly stimulating or euphoric.  PMMA, instead, acts primarily as a stimulant.  Both have been linked to numerous overdose deaths, including PMMA in early 2012 in Western Canadian provinces where it was sold as pressed "ecstasy" pills.
The dangers related to PMA/PMMA are for two different primary reasons.  In the case of PMA, the substance acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), a substance which increases the potency and toxicity of many other drugs and even certain foods.  When PMA and MDMA are taken together (just like when any MAOI and MDMA are taken together), the risk of serotonin syndrome can be increased.
PMMA, on the other hand, acts as a physical stimulant which can raise a user's blood pressure and heart rate.  These effects can occur at doses lower than the other psychoactive effects, and so users who think they are taking normal ecstasy will assume that their pill is just "weak"/"bunk" and increase their dose. The overdose threshold for PMMA is lower than for MDMA, and users can reach the point of a dangerous stimulant overdose before they realize that they have taken anything unusual. As this is a particular health concern in Canada right now, be extra cautious about E and MDMA - test your pills and never re-dose because something seems too weak (who wants to double up on something that's crap anyway, right??). If you feel really sick after dosing & none of the normal tricks work (take a break, drink some water or something with electrolites, use the washroom, lie down, etc.) think about heading to the ER. 
 
AMT (Alpha-Methyltryptamine)
AMT is a psychedelic stimulant of the tryptamine family that is not typically found in place of other drugs.  However, as it is often described as having a particularly unique set of effects, it has achieved a fair level of popularity on its own. While not extremely common, it is definitely more common than many other experimental psychedelics. First developed in the 1960s, it experienced a boost in popularity beginning in the '90s as commercial chemical supply distribution became more widespread. AMT currently remains legal in most countries, including Canada.
 
BZP (Benzylpiperazine)
A euphoric stimulant which has been marketed under "legal high"/"ecstasy alternative" brands, BZP is now banned in a handful of countries but remains legal in Canada. Although no deaths have been reported from BZP alone, deaths have been reported in people consuming BZP and MDMA together, however BZP could not be identified as a direct cause in those cases. Nonetheless, the list of negative side-effects is substantial:
 
[Patients with mild to moderate toxicity experienced symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, dystonia, and urinary retention. Significantly, fourteen toxic seizures were recorded with two patients suffering life-threatening toxicity with status epilepticus and severe respiratory and metabolic acidosis. It was concluded that BZP appears to induce toxic seizures in neurologically normal subjects. The results of this study and others like it showed that BZP can cause unpredictable and serious toxicity in some individuals, but the data and dosage collection were reliant on self reporting by drug users, which may result in under-reporting, and there were complicating factors like the frequent presence of alcohol and other drugs.]
The above information came from a study in Christchurch, New Zealand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzylpiperazine 
 

 
How are we supposed to go forward from here with the possibility that any street drug could contain something we haven't even heard of yet?
 
The same old approach still holds true in this new situation:
Know yourself, know your substance and know your source!
 
Knowing yourself: Recognize when the effects of something you've taken don't match what they should. Try to familiarize yourself with information aobut RCs that you could possibly encounter and know what effects to be looking out for.
 
Knowing your substance: TEST!!! If at all possible, test every batch with a testing kit. While testing kits used to only identify a small handful of major substances, there are now kits which can detect many dozens of different things, ranging from illegal drugs to unusual RCs to major pharmaceuticals.
 
Contact TRIP! for more information on testing, and also take a look at the TestKitPlusDanceSafe , EZ Test  and Bunk Police  websites. If you absolutely can't get something tested, you should still learn to be as skilled as possible at assessing your drugs by appearance, taste and other means (the common ketamine 'burn test' is a good example of another testing method).
 
Knowing your source: Part of this also means knowing that your source may be honest with you but still not realize that they were sold something weird. While most dealers won't be willing to tell you in-depth information about their own sources, you should try to get a sense of whether they have extremely reliable and consistent links or whether they switch suppliers and are kind of hit-or-miss every time they pick up.
 
Likewise, if you're getting RCs from a chemical supply company, realize that not all companies are the same - many of the less legitimate ones will sell impure products, poorly-made products, or even sell totally mislabelled products when they've run out.  Get as many reviews as you can, make sure that online reviews aren't just spam put out by the company, and try to get a sense of whether the company really distributes large amounts for research purposes or is just some random person in a basement somewhere. 
 
(Check out our previous introductory post on research chems for more background info.) 

Youth Pride BBQ Monday, June 25

fabric rainbow 

Empower, TRIP! and CTCHC/Shout are co-hosting a pride BBQ. Please join us for an afternoon of yummy food, sun, and some loud and proud tunes! The event is open to LGTBQ youth and allies, aged 16-29. There will be yummy food, a DJ, art making activities, performances, and more!

Details: Monday, June 25, 2012
Time: 2:00-4:00pm
Location: Central Toronto Community Health Centre/Shout

For youth familiar with our space, the event will be held on the third floor. There will be signs however, and lovely front desk staff to guide folks who may be new to the space. This is an LGTBQ safe space and accessable. Please contact us if you have accessability questions. 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/121137518026687/ 

Youth Pride BBQ -poster 

RC Watch vol 1, issue 1 // Why designer drugs are turning up in more places than your bath (salts)

 

 mephedrone bag

RCs – research chemicals, which are sometimes called designer drugs and are more properly described as unresearched chemicals, are becoming increasingly common, both in semi-legal grey areas like "bath salts" and "plant fertilizer" as well as in the underground illegal market.

TRIP! will be issuing this monthly bulletin regarding trends in research chems.  If you have any questions about specific RCs, or have been hearing about any new ones that seem to be appearing, feel free to send us an e-mail at info@tripproject.ca or chat up one of our volunteers.

 

What exactly are RCs?

 

RCs are chemicals which have yet to be researched and/or have been created for research purposes but haven't gone through rigorous clinical study.  Because of this, anyone considering using research chems should do very thorough research first.   Make sure to look into effects, side-effects, dosages and known risks, even more so than with "familiar" drugs - which you should always be as knowledgeable as possible about anyway ;)

As well, it is extremely important that you understand that you are essentially acting as a guinea pig, and many of these substances may only seem safe until a hospitalization or fatality occurs "in the wild."  Even if there are no serious short-term side-effects, long-term problems could accumulate and remain undetectable for years.

 

from Erowid:

"Although some people are willing to ingest these chemicals for their effects, it is not reasonable to assume that these chemicals are in any way 'safe' to use recreationally.  Although all psychoactive use involves risk, this class of chemicals has undergone virtually no human or animal toxicity studies and there is little to no data on possible long term problems, addiction potential, allergic reactions, or acute overdoses."

http://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/research_chems/

 

When you contrast this with drugs like LSD, MDMA and even now K which have decades of formal research behind them, the unknown risk factor essentially becomes infinite.  However, nowadays you may be encountering these substances whether you seek them out or not, so it's important that you familiarize yourself with the world of RCs even if you don't intend to be consuming them.

 

This is because RCs - some of which were initially synthesized years ago - are popping up all over the place these days…

 

Where are they showing up?

 

While more and more people are acquiring RCs deliberately and selling them under their actual names, many RCs are also sold in place of already-popular drugs like MDMA/E, K, LSD and so on.  This is because there is already established demand in the black market for these substances, and so it can be much easier to move a bag of methoxetamine by calling it "K" or PMMA by calling it "E" than by trying to explain what they actually are to reluctant customers.

 

Why are they now showing up more and more?

 

Technology and globalization is one reason. Although a flip through PiHKAL http://www.erowid.org/library/books_online/pihkal/pihkal.shtml and TiHKAL www.erowid.org/library/books_online/tihkal/tihkal.shtml will reveal more decades-old psychedelics than you'll be able to keep track of, there are now more chemical companies producing them in high quantities, and it is easier for these suppliers to take orders online & ship products worldwide.

 

Prohibition is the other big reason.  Recent years have seen repeated tightening of laws regarding possession, distribution and production of common street drugs like MDMA, K, and LSD.

Even though it now seems to be more likely for a user to experience a toxic overdose from PMMA than from MDMA, it is a much more serious crime to be found with a shipment of MDMA, actually encouraging the distribution of a more dangerous substance.  Likewise, it is far safer to get caught with MXE than with K, even though MXE has been associated with recent lethal overdoses and K is still respected as a mostly-safe pharmaceutical anaesthetic.

It's likely that the more prohibition is expanded, the greater the number of unresearched substances we will see on the black/grey market.  While governments are attempting to push anti-analogue laws (essentially, very broad laws which try to make it illegal to choose to alter your consciousness in any way) and other measures which would ban RCs outright, technology continues to provide people with ever-expanding ways to get around the law, and prohibition measures simply can't help but fall further and further behind. 

 

Tech blog Gizmodo just posted a writeup on this topic:

http://gizmodo.com/5914578/chemists-outrun-laws-in-war-on-synthetic-drugs

From that post: "If you want any evidence that drugs have won the drug war, you just need to read the scientific studies on legal highs," -- Vaughan Bell, MindHacks

 

What RCs has Toronto seen the most of so far?

 

MDPV

Mephedrone

2C-*

Methoxetamine

BZP

PMA/PMMA

AMT

DOI/DOB

(For more info on these, see post #2 .) 

 

Some of these drugs fit the RC/designer drug qualification of being deliberate attempts to circumvent laws and create legal highs, others are simply largely-unknown chemicals that have existed under the radar for some time and are increasingly showing up in place of more common ones (such is the case when blotter acid turns out to be DOI or DOB instead of LSD).

 

In coming posts, we'll explore these substances in more depth.  If you have any questions about RCs that you'd like to know more about, or if you have noticed any emerging RC trends, please get in touch with us at info@tripproject.ca or by approaching any of our volunteers.

For now, if you need research-based information immediately on a specific substance, consult Erowid.

 

Toronto Youth Drug Survey

Research Chemicals and Pill Testing

Over the last month there have been a number of deaths and hospitalizations in Canada due to adulterated MDMA with PMMA, an analog derived from anise oil.  It's really important to test your supply in order to avoid bunk pills. Many users who take these adulterated pills don't feel them kick in and end up redosing, thus experiencing overdoses.  If you do take a pill and you don't feel it hit soon enough, avoid redosing as it could potentially be PMMA.  These deaths did occur in Western Canada, and while we haven't heard anything around PMMA in Toronto, there are similar concerns about bunk pills on the eastern front. This is just another example of what happens when you crack down on precursers (like safrole oil), as underground chemists will look for other new ways to synthesize legal analogs, which can be more dangerous than the illegal drugs they are based on.  While the B.C. police will not release the identity of the pills that caused these deaths, we encourage the community to do their own research and share information online.

Recently, a strange brown powder has resulted in a number of hospitalizations in Owen Sound.  One of our harm reduction service users also had a strong reaction to a similar strange brown powder, and we were able to lend them a testing kit.  The pills tested positive for what might be 5-MeO-DMT, as well as speed.  While there are lots of great posts online about using the DanceSafe Testing kits, it's hard to come across information around the newer research chemicals.  Some research chemicals like piperazines or PMMA which are a very common adulterant do not produce any colour changes depending on the reagent. The Mandelin EZ testing kit does screen for PMMA, so that is probably your best bet for catching this substance.

Others can produce colours that look similar to other drugs, so it's really important to do all of the tests (Mecke, Marquis, Simons Reagant, Mandelin, etc.) to know what is in your pill.  As such, we've take the liberty of sharing some newer research done by the online community of international drug nerds.  Please use the images below to help further determine what adulterants may be lurking in your pill.  Feel free to email us at info@tripproject.ca if you would like to purchase a testing kit in Canada. The following chart shows some of the range of research chemicals that are showing up on the scene, and below are the Mecke, Marquis, Mandelin and Simons Reagant results for some of these chemicals.

 Emerging Research Chemicals

 

2C-C:
Marquis – yellow, changing to light green, and then fading over
time
Mecke – yellow/brown/green, green fades over time
Mandellin -
clear

2C-B:
Marquis – yellow, changing to green, and then
fading over time
Mecke – yellow/brown
Mandellin – yellow fading to
clear

2C-I:
Marquis – Green-blue with yellow edges, fades to
blue, fades over time
Mecke – dark brown, very fast
Mandellin -
clear

2C-D:
Marquis – Very faint brown, fading to clear.

Mecke – Yellow-brown fading to reddish brown
Mandellin – Yellow w/tinge
of green fades to clear over time

2C-E:
Marquis – Very faint
brown, fading to clear.
Mecke – Dark brown
Mandellin – Yellow w/tinge of
green fades to clear over time

2C-P:
Marquis – Very faint
brown, fading to clear.
Mecke – Yellow-brown fading to Rusty
Brown
Mandellin – Yellow w/tinge of green fades to clear over time
Slow
reactions.

2C-T-2:
Marquis – Almost no reaction, slight brown.

Mecke – Black/dark purple fading to orangy-red
Mandellin – Orange fading
to clear over time

2C-T-4:
Marquis – Almost no reaction,
slight brown.
Mecke – Black/dark purple fading to
reddish-orange
Mandellin – Orange fading to clear over
time

2C-T-7:
Marquis – Almost no reaction, slight brown.

Mecke – Black/dark purple, fading slowly if at all.
Mandellin – Orange
fading to clear over time

 

Beta Ketones and Various RC stimsempathogens

Beta Ketones and Various RCs

Naphyrone
Marquis – yellow
Mecke – no reaction (kept the brownish
color it had out of bottle)
Mandellin – Clear
Robadope -
Negative
Simons – Negative

Mephedrone, Buphedrone, Ethcathinone, 3
and 4 Flouromethcathinone
:
Marquis – no reaction
Mecke – slight
brown, almost no change.
Mandellin – slight browning.
Robadope -
Negative
Simons – Positive

MDPV, MDPPP, Methylone, Butylone:

Marquis – yellow
Mecke – red-brown
Mandellin – clear
Robadope -
Negative
Simons – MDPPP/MDPV Negative, Methylone/Butylone
Positive

Methedrone (DANGER! BAD STUFF!)
Marquis -
yellow-orange
Mecke – orange
Mandellin – orange
Robadope -
Negative
Simons – Positive

6-APB:.

All I know for sure on test results is Robadope should be
positive, and Simons negative.

5-IAI
Marquis -
brown-grey
Mecke – Red
Mandellin – yellow
Robadope -
Positive
Simons – Negative
NOTE: Previous 5-IAI results posted were for
FAKE PRODUCT. The old, inaccurate results have been removed.

4-Flouroamphetamine:
Marquis – no reaction if only
small amount used. If you dump a whole pile of it in, it’ll turn brownish orange.
Mecke – no reaction
Mandellin – no reaction
Robadope -
Positive
Simons – Negative

Desoxypipiradrol
All slow and weak color changes.
Marquis -
brown
Mecke – brown
Mandellin – yellow/brown
Robadope -
Negative
Simons – Negative

MDAI 
Marquis – Light brown to
very dark brown depending on trace impurities.
Mecke – Dark
Brown
Mandellin – Dark Brown
Robadope – Positive
Simons -
Negative

2-Aminoindane
Marquis – no reaction
Mecke -
brown
Mandellin – light blue
Robadope – Positive
Simons -
Negative

Ephedrine 
Sample from BOLT brand single constituant
ephedrine pills.
Marquis – no reaction
Mecke – no reaction
Mandellin -
yellow-orange
Robadope – Negative
Simons – Positive

Caffeine
(anhydrous, USP)

Marquis – no reaction
Mecke – slight
browning
Mandellin – no change
Robadope – Positive
Simons -
Negative

pFPP
Marquis – no reaction
Mecke – slight
browning
Mandellin – no change
Robadope – Negative
Simons – Positive?
It should be positive…

MDAT: 
Not shown.
All reactions slow. Strange colors, changing over time, all colors weak.
Robadope -
Positive
Simons – Negative

 


JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081
Marquis – Yellow quickly changing to brown

Mecke – Brown/Yellow
Mandellin – Dark
brown

JWH-200
Marquis – Yellow/orange
Mecke -
Yellow
Mandellin – Dark red-brown

JWH-250
Marquis – Red,
fading to orange over time
Mecke – Orange
Mandellin – Dark
grey-brown

AM-694
Marquis – Brown/yellow, hints of green

Mecke – grey/brown
Mandellin – Dark
red-brown

CP-47,497
Marquis – Red/orange
Mecke – Blue,
fading over time.
Mandellin – Brown

CP-55,940
Marquis -
red/orange
Mecke – Blue-green, fading over time
Mandellin -
Brown

 

SEDATIVES

 

 Borrowed from the friendly international drug nerd community!  Thanks everyone for documenting these results. 

 <3TRIP!

We're Hiring!

TRIP! Logo 

TRIP Project

Outreach Worker Position

 (24 hours a month; $11/hour)

Part Time 1 year Contract Feb 20, 2012- Feb. 20, 2013 

 

CTCHC is a non-profit, community-based health organization committed to improving the health of community members, particularly those at risk for poverty and discrimination.  Our multi-disciplinary approach includes the provision of primary health/dental care, counseling, harm reduction, community development, advocacy, and innovative partnerships with other organizations.  CTCHC is a leader in the development of inner-city health services and focuses on the needs of homeless and street involved youth, adults, and families in the local area. CTCHC is a pro-choice and gay positive organization committed to employment equity and anti-discrimination. Our facilities are fully accessible.

Position Description    

The TRIP! Project, a project of Central Toronto Community Health Centres (CTCHC), provides safer sex and safer drug use education, information, supplies and referrals, to Toronto’s diverse dance music communities. Working closely with the TRIP! Project Coordinator, this position will be supported to provide peer-based harm reduction education online through social media and onsite at dance music events (parties), and will support project volunteers to provide accurate information on harm reduction, sexual health and safer drug use to the dance music community, local organizations and high schools.

Accountability:

This position will work within a broader Harm Reduction team, and be responsible to the Project Coordinator.

Specific Responsibilities:

·         Provide an average of 1-2 shifts per month of outreach services at dance music events in Toronto each month 

·         Provide appropriately tailored and accurate information on harm reduction, sexual health and safer drug use to the dance music community through onsite outreach and social media outreach, including Facebook, Purerave, Twitter and blogging 

  • Work collaboratively with the TRIP! Project Coordinator and other TRIP! Outreach Workers, and participate in the Harm Reduction team and the broader CTCHC as required
  • Provide programming support for TRIP! trainings and workshops, including helping with community kitchen 

·         Attend and provide support for monthly outreach meetings, and meetings with the TRIP! Project Coordinator

Also responsible for working in a manner that:

·         Preserves confidentiality and seeks to minimize risk

·         Incorporates health promotion and harm reduction strategies and recognizes the determinants of health

·         Incorporates and strengthens interdisciplinary teamwork and a collaborative approach to the CTCHC’s work

·         Respects and values the diversity of communities and individuals

·         Contributes to CTCHC’s activities to collect, analyze and report on data, participates in research as applicable

·         Communicates clearly, listens accurately, is open to feedback, handles conflict appropriately, displays sensitivity to others.

·         Participates in CTCHC’s commitment to being a discrimination-free health centre.

Qualifications:

·         An active participant of Toronto’s dance music community; strong knowledge of and comfort with party and rave culture, partygoers, and Toronto’s dance music communities 

·         Strong knowledge of HIV, drug use, and related issues, as well as risk and harm reduction strategies Knowledge of harm reduction and the rave/dance music community.

·         Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

·         Knowledge and experience using social media (including Twitter, Facebook and Wordpress)

·         Excellent ability to take initiative and work independently, while also working closely with the TRIP Project Coordinator and other TRIP! Outreach Workers

·         Demonstrated ability to support peer volunteers in providing health promotional outreach services

·         Knowledge and experience using social media (including Twitter, Facebook and Wordpress)

·         Positive attitude towards a diverse community

·         Ability to work long night shifts on weekends

·         Ability to express and invests creativity and positive energy into an incredible youth prohect

·         We are particularly seeking applications from qualified members of the groups traditionally under-represented in the workplace and the dance music community

 

Please email cover letter and resume by Mon Feb 13, 2011 @ 5 p.m.

Hiring Committee - Job#QW,

EMAIL ADDRESS:  lkufner@ctchc.com   


For more information about the program, please visit 

 We regret that only those we wish to interview will be contacted.

 

Free and Accessible Health Care, No ID Required

No Health Card? No ID? No problem!

 
At least at IMAGINE, a clinic organized and run by U of T students out of the Queen West Community Health Centre (where TRIP! runs out of) for patients who may otherwise have trouble navigating the health care system.
 
  
Every Saturday from 10am - 2pm four students from different health care disciplines are available for consultations and treatment. Currently there is one medical student, one nursing student, one pharmacy student, and one social work student each week and the program is hoping to extend to dentistry and physiotherapy in the future.
 
Read more here
  
 Also, if you’re homeless, under-housed or transient the Queen West Community Health Centre can help you get or replace ID (birth certificate, health card, SIN card).

The program runs every second Wednesday of the month from 10am - 12:30pm which means there's one next week: Wednesday January 11th!
The centre opens at 9am - Arrive early to ensure service!

Water is Vital - a short story by Chelsea Jaap

Raver Girl

     As the rain came pouring down, he walked towards the building with determination. He knew what he wanted. Vincent turned and grabbed the hand of his best friend, Trisha, and charged towards the end of a massive line up of people directed to the giant doors of the building. Eventually, the rain had stopped and the sound of giant wings that was the numerous umbrellas being closed and put away could be heard over the many conversations happening in the line. A bit more time had passed before Vincent spun around and handed Trisha a water bottle and a capsule, which was half filled with white powder. When she gave him a puzzled look, he learned towards her and gently whispered in her ear, “Just swallow it like it’s a prescription.” Her eyes lit up in realization as she ecstatically tossed down the pill with some water. 

     When they got inside, they had their bags and raincoats placed in coat check and their hands stamped with the abbreviation of “Peace Love Unity Respect”. Vincent turned to Trisha, then over the loud music he yelled, “Go get changed. I will meet you back here in ten minutes.” In the girls’ washroom, Trisha came out of the stall fumbling to get her wavy red hair into a high ponytail while looking into the mirror to see her outfit. A baggy “The Beatles” tank top slightly covered the top of her tie-dye rainbow shorts that had glow sticks hanging off the belt loops down to her knees. She rolled on a pair of multi-colored arm warmers and came out of the washroom and saw Vincent already at the meeting spot. He stood tall with his brown hair spiked, wearing a bright yellow t-shirt with a large blue “V” in the center, with a pair of purple UFO pants.

     Trisha jumped on his back to surprise him, and Vincent carried her off to a smaller room where a few people wearing V.I.P tags were scrambling about the area like a brood of chicken that had just broken free from the farm. Vincent slapped the shoulder of one particular blond girl who was wearing a white bikini top with a short plaid skirt that flowed with her black and white fishnet stockings. She turned impatiently towards him, her thick frames hiding her frowning brow. Looking upon Vincent quickly changed her expression to a delighted ear-to-ear smile as she threw her arms around him and squealed, “V! About damn time you got here, the rest of the crew thought you were ditching your own gig…and who might this be?” She let her grip go on Vincent’s neck and straightened herself up, tilting her head towards the quiet red head standing behind him.

     “The name’s Trisha; I am here on my first night of raving,” she piped up as she held out her hand to be shaken. “My anticipation of tonight couldn’t be contained in this entire establishment.”

     The girl laughed, pushed Trisha’s hand to her side and engulfed her in a chest crushing embrace. She eventually released Trisha from the hug and smiled as she continued the introduction. “My name’s Brittani, but most people around here call me Lollipop. I run Lickin’ The Productions, the company throwing this rave tonight. Do me a favor and come back here to see me later would you?” Trisha nodded with excitement. Suddenly, she froze.

     A hot feeling brewing from her stomach spread throughout her muscles, making her tense up.

     The irresistible urge to clench her teeth made her turn towards Vincent, who looked back at her and studied her stone-like stance. He did not much more than inspect her dilated pupils, nod in understanding, and pull out a baby soother attached to a beaded necklace and put it around Trisha’s neck. “It’s kicked in now. You are probably going to want to head to the dance floor quickly and test out this source of energy. Also, this lovely thing is what will save your tongue and cheeks from being chewed like a dog toy. Don’t tear it apart, just lightly rub your teeth on it to relieve the tension that will be consistently irritating your jaw, otherwise you’re going to have an all-around sore mouth tomorrow morning. This was all being said while he showed Trisha the way back towards the hallway and pointed towards the source of the thumping bass, a doorway where strings of blue and green LED light seemed to dance onto the wall across from it. She gave a slight frown at him, and he smiled and patted her shoulder while he leaned in and mumbled, “Go explore, dance, and enjoy the music. You will see me on stage in the next twenty minutes.”

     Walking, breathing, every natural human performance felt new in some way. Trisha’s first step into the dance room and the rhythms of heavy, wobbling bass, repeating percussion and a tempo that could result in broken feet were all swimming through her body like she was the sub-woofer. Stunned for a second, she recollected herself and rushed over to a spot near the front stage. Observing the dancing of the people around her, she began mimicking little things she found interesting, eventually finding a comfortable method of her own. She started catching up to the speed of the electronic music. Holy mother of earth, I feel like I could dance for eternity, she thought. The tempo of the music began to steadily drop, and the song changed so drastically that anyone could tell the genre had switched, meaning, VINCENT! she screamed in her mind as she turned to face the stage.

     High up on the stage was a confident and concentrated Vincent, who had put on a bright green visor that had the brim decorated with crafty beads and shapes. He built up the beat to a speedy tempo that got the entire room moving in unison. Trisha felt as if her heart was connecting to the feeling he was putting into the happy electronic music blaring through the giant speakers on the stage positioned towards the crowd. Pulse racing and forehead sweating, Trisha stepped aside to lean against a wall and checked the time to conclude that the set was almost over. She started towards the doorway to the hallway, but her vision became a spinning merry-go-round.

     She reached for the wall, a numbing feeling spreading from her hands through her arms to her chest.

     The numbing hit her feet, and she collapsed.

     Her name in the distance, a wave of cold water on her face and bright concentrated light on her eyes brought Trisha back to life. She was laying down on a folded blanket on the floor of the small room she was in previous to the dance room, and straining to adjust her vision, she threw her hand in front to block the light from her eyes. “Okay, that’s enough back off now. Look at her! She’s awake. Give her a minute!” exclaimed the concerned Vincent, who was kneeling over her. Trisha slowly rose from her corpse-like position and chugged back water from a bottle Vincent had pushed towards her. “This here bottle could have saved you from what happened earlier. I sincerely regret not informing you about keeping hydrated with the current physical state that you have.” He turned his attention to Lollipop, who was standing at the other side of the room. “I need to grab my CDs and headphones; will you accompany her for a while?” She nodded as he set off for the dance room.

     Lollipop strutted over and gave a slight giggle when she looked down to Trisha. “Goodness gracious! You sure worked yourself to exhaustion in there. It’s been a long time since any of us have seen someone faint in a place like this.” She paused and walked towards the counter, then spun back around with a box wrapped in paper with neon swirls hand drawn everywhere and continued, “When you’re feeling up to it, you may open this. Only people who come to my events as their first experience receive such a gift. I do hope we meet again.” She gently set the box by Trisha’s knees and got up from the floor. Turning to walk out the door, she added, “You should be alright now; Vincent’s on his way now. Ciao!” Trisha waved and snapped her attention to the box.

     Using her nail, she cut along the paper and opened the box. Inside contained some pamphlets on Safe Raving & After-partying, beside it was a small bag with condoms, lube and a straw. She slowly took items out one by one and underneath the pamphlets and bag was a card containing a happy face on the front, which had a slight bulge in it. She opened the card and three colorful beaded bracelets fell out. She started to read the card as she put on the bracelets. The card read: Congratulations on your first rave. I hope you had a wonderful time and will continue to come out and see how beautiful this scene can be. Our next event will be on December 17th, a Christmas themed rave. For more information please send an email to Lollipop@LickintheProductions@gmail.com. Sincerely, Lollipop

     Hearing the shuffling footsteps that was Vincent, Trisha quickly gathered all the things she had taken out of the box and assembled it all back in and closed it. Vincent ran with his hands full of DJ equipment into the room and emptied his load onto the counter. Breathing quickly and deeply, he caught his breath and regained himself as he proceeded to sit beside Trisha. As he sat, she grabbed the box and adjusted herself against the wall. They looked at each other and exchanged smiles. She held the box close to her. He understood.

Drinking and Safer Nightlife

 Going to a bar or hitting a club can be an adventure some nights. The beer we have at a friends place before heading out becomes eight drinks, the bouncer who was looking at you funny when you walked in the door suddenly has a problem with your presence. At moments it can seem like all this has happened before, and that's because it has. TRIP! in conjunction with the Toronto Safer Nightlife Committee, have released the results of the Toronto SaferNightlife Survey.

TRIP scoured bars, clubs and party goers for the information of 334 participants over the year of  2010, ranging from as far north as Newmarket and as far south as Hamilton, polling them about their habits when they go to a bar or club. The range of questions included: Do they pre-drink or just hit the bar, do they drink water before, during, or after? What goes wrong most often, and what do the bars (in the average users humble opinion) need to change?

One of the big trends noticed was the number of people pre-drinking. More and more this habit has become popular, being just what it sounds like: pre-drinking means having a couple of drinks at home before heading out to the bar.  90% of people polled said they had at least one or two drinks beforehand, while half of the pre-drinkers reported they had three to five drinks before heading out. A fifth reported having between 5-10 drinks, and smaller percentages reporting upwards of 10. The major reason for pre-drinking in the survey was apparently to save money. Pre-bar socializing came a close second reason.

However, when one arrives to the pub, there can come a time when they think to themselves, “Maybe I shouldn't have had that tenth shot of tequila.” How do the others, as a group, know when to refuse drinks, if they are just as drunk? According to the polls, 62% of participants “knew” when they “felt drunk enough” to stop themselves, and their friends, from reaching to the point some like to call, “heading to your happy place”. 36% of the participants in the polls seemed braver, though, and stopped drinking as soon as they felt ill (which is probably the preferable thing to do). Lastly, a stalwart 32% of individuals only ceased drinking when the bar issued last call.

Apparently, most youth in the GTA take one step further than drinking alcohol when they have a night out with friends. 80% of participants in the survey reported illicit drug use while in a bar or club. Of those people, 88% are more likely to be men who get high at the bar, versus 74% of women. A substantial amount of youth is following this trend of illicit drug use, with 76% being under eighteen. The substances that are most likely to be used are amphetamine-type substances, such as meth and MDMA/ecstasy; and hallucinogen-type substances, such as ketamine, or cannabis.

Of course, when one spends a night out with friends, it is common to wonder what the neighbours must be thinking. Well, apparently, 57% of individuals polled are mindful of local residents, while 27% are only mindful in relation to how drunk they were. A smaller group reported that they did not see entertainment districts as residential, so were not mindful at all. The results between youth from Toronto and youth from outside the city are identical, which might be surprising to some people.

Upon asking what the biggest problems usually were, a few common headaches became clear. Most of the polled participants gave personal problems with injury, loss of personal items, and illness as their top three answers. Two interesting facts also arose: Firstly, frequent pre-drinkers were more likely to report harms and injuries. Also, those under eighteen, and those over thirty, had the lowest percentage of substance overdose or alcohol poisoning.

The lesson taken away from this survey seems to be that if you go out clubbing or just out to a bar is that if you pre-drink, be careful of how much you have before heading out and keep track of yourself  and your belongings as the night goes on. Easy ways to help this are to drink water between rounds, have a drinking buddy to check in with every so often, and as always, know your mind, know your body, and know your source (or in this case, your bar).

 

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