MAX Ottawa, in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and Capital Pride, held the first Spill the Tea event on August 23, 2018. What did some MAX service users and attendees have to say about it?
- “The event touched on important things and did it in a good way!” Anonymous
- “It was the perfect balance of infotainment – the audience attention was kept!” Anonymous
- “It is a great repeatable event!” Anonymous
MAX is still overwhelmed by the success of the event. Headliner Shea Coulee from Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 9 performed to a sold-out audience at the 27 Club Ottawa. Mikiki from Toronto and Anaconda LaSabrosa from Montreal got us all talking about partying safely and getting tested for HIV and STI’s and Devona Coe, an Ottawa queen, moved the crowd. During that time, nearly 800 safe sex and partying supplies were handed out.
As we prepare for our second Spill the Tea scheduled for November 29th, 2018, please read some answers to commonly asked questions received about the program. Scroll down for more information on where and how you can access free harm reduction and testing resources in Ottawa.
What is Spill the Tea?
Spill the Tea is a health and wellness intervention program to deliver safer partying education and awareness among guys who are into guys that live, work, and play in the Ottawa area. MAX Ottawa, in partnership with Viiv Healthcare and Capital Pride launched Spill the Tea on July 12, 2018.
What is the goal of Spill the Tea?
The goal is to talk about harm reduction amongst GBT2Q guys who use drugs for sex and get them connected to testing resources. Due to the stigma that exists around drugs and sex, there are huge barriers to having open discussions about party and play (PNP for short or chemsex). Spill the Tea helps address these barriers by hosting three events from summer 2018 to spring 2019 at local social venues with Ottawa-based, national and international drag queens and performers to provide a fun and safe environment for effective outreach.
How did the program come about?
MAX Ottawa and ViiV Healthcare Canada are testing a 2017 similar initiative that proved successful in Berlin: Let’s Talk and Test! The program helped connect gay, bi, and other queer men to testing resources and care. MAX Ottawa did a PNP needs assessment in early 2018 and found that 40% of respondents of GBT2Q guys in the capital region engaged in party and play at least once in the last year. From that number, over half declared using drugs only for sexual purposes. Through ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Partnership, we created a local program to help begin a dialogue around the subject. With a partnership with Capital Pride, we were able to debut Spill the Tea during Ottawa Pride week.
MAX and ViiV wanted to ensure Spill the Tea was a community-led project. For this reason, a safer partying advisory committee was formed. Guys from the Ottawa area who use or have used offered their time and knowledge to inform MAX and ViiV of their wants, needs, and desires for an effective harm reduction program. They also decided on the name, Spill the Tea!
Says one committee member, “…It’s time we raise awareness on PNP and spill the truth/tea about drug use and sex. If we continue to sweep it under the rug, we will continue to see a rise in STI’s and HIV transmission. These parties do take place, there’s no stopping that, our best approach is to understand them, support them with resources, services and supplies to party safer.”
What does MAX have in terms of harm reduction equipment?
Currently, MAX has harm reduction kits designed for guys who are either hosting (or going to) a party and want enough materials for both themselves and others.
Our current boxed kit* contains:
- 5 condom and lube packs.
- 2 pairs of fisting gloves
- 1 crack kit containing: pipes, screens, pushers and a mouthpiece.
- 2 snorting kits
- 2 injection kits containing: needles, waters, cookers, alcohol swabs, an arm band.
- 1 meth pipe.
- 1 English info packet explaining the kit in more detail along with links, tips, and points of contact for additional health services.
- 1 French language info sheet.
*Our kits continue to change as we get more feedback from the community. We will update this page each time the box changes.
Where can I get this kit?
Our kits are available to pick up by emailing MAX at email@example.com or through the NESI (Needle Exchange and Safer Inhalation) van which will deliver to the Ottawa area. The NESI van can be reached via telephone at 613-761-0003 and operates Monday through Saturday from 5:00 PM to 11:30 PM.
What other harm reduction services are available for me?
There are many harm reduction services which are available for you. Below is a non-exhaustive list of harm reduction services. MAX staff can also be contacted with questions and needs, and we will refer you to an appropriate service.
- NESI (Needle Exchange and Safer Inhalation) van. A mobile service which will deliver safe injection and inhalation supplies to you.
- T: 613-761-0003
- Available: Monday through Saturday from 5:00 PM to 11:30 PM.
- Safer Partying kits: A box of supplies and information for guys into PnP.
- Available for pick up at MAX Ottawa Monday through Friday 9:30 AM to 5:00 pm. Other times by arrangement.
- E: firstname.lastname@example.org
- T: 613-440-3237 ext 1, 2, or 4
- Address: 251 Bank Street, 5th floor. Ottawa ON
- The Tool Shed: ACO’s harm reduction program.
- T: 613 -238-5014, ext. 239
- Available: Monday through Friday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
- Address: 19 Main Street Ottawa ON
- NESI (Needle exchange and safer inhalation) drop-in.
- Available: Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 to 4:00 PM and Thursdays from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.
- Address: 55 Eccles Street Ottawa ON
- Centretown Community Health Centre harm reduction drop-in:
- Available: Monday through Friday from 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
- Address: 420 Cooper Street Ottawa ON
- To access services ask the front desk clerk for a prepared kit which is handed to you in a brown paper bag:
- “N” bag = Long needle supplies
- “S” bag = Short needle supplies
- “P” bag= Pipes
- If you like privacy, a worker can provide supportive & confidential services in a closed room. Supplies are also available during Gay ZONE hours (Thursday 5:30-8:00 pm)
Harm reduction vending machines:
There are four harm reduction vending machines in Ottawa. At these free vending machines, you can access both safe injection and inhalation supplies. The vending machines are operated by token. To get a token, you have to go into the centre and ask staff for one. Each vending machine item comes with an additional token.
Vending machine locations:
- Ottawa Public Health Site Needle & Syringe Program Location: 179 Clarence Street
- Sandy Hill Community Health Centre Location: 221 Nelson Street
- Somerset West Community Health Centre Location: 55 Eccles Street
- Carlington Community Health Services Location: 900 Merivale Road
Where can I get a free, anonymous Rapid HIV test?
There are many places to access rapid and anonymous HIV testing. Below is a non-exhaustive list. You can always contact MAX and we will connect you with an appropriate service.
Suburban outreach clinics:
Suburban outreach clinics in the Champlain region are a partnership between ACO, MAX Ottawa, and Somerset West CHC. At these clinics, one can access HIV testing services along with post-test counselling. Drop in or make an appointment at hivtest.setmore.com
Clinic locations and times:
- Every second Wednesday of each month:
- Orleans-Cumberland CRC
- Location: 240 Centrum Blvd., Unit 105 Orléans ON
- Time: 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.
- Every Third Wednesday of each month:
- South Nepean CRC
- Location: 1365 Richmond Road, 2nd floor Ottawa
- Time: 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.
- Every fourth Wednesday of each month:
- Western Ottawa CRC
- Location: 2, MacNeil Court Kanata
- Time: 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.
Gay ZONE is a weekly clinic which takes place at the Centretown Community Health Centre on Thursday evenings. At this testing clinic, one can access HIV testing, post-test counselling and other programming such as yoga. It is a partnership between ACO, MAX and SWCHC.
Gay ZONE location and time:
- Every Thursday from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
- Location: 420 Cooper Street.
Somerset West Community Health Centre
- SWCHC provides rapid HIV testing and post-test counselling Monday to Friday between 1:00pm-5: 00 pm on a walk-in basis.
- Location: 55 Eccles Street.
Are there any online resources that can help guys party safely?
Tripsit is a volunteer organization that provides real-time harm reduction chat for drug users, drug combination charts, fact sheets and much more. They also have an easy to use mobile app. Follow them on Facebook @tripsitme, Twitter @teamtripsit, and Reddit @r/tripsit.
Spill the Tea in the Media:
- MAX Ottawa and ViiV Healthcare Launch Innovative Spill the Tea Campaign
Written by Fugues Magazine, July 31, 2018.
- Spilling The Tea On Guys Who Party And Play
Written by Jumol Royes for In Magazine, August 1, 2018.
- Capital Pride: An open talk about Party and Play culture
Written by Mathew Adams for Apt613, August 7, 2018.
- Spill the Tea to Fight Stigma Surrounding Sexual Health
Written by Marissa Phul for The Fulcrum, August 28, 2018.
About MAX Ottawa
MAX Ottawa is a community-based organization that focuses on the maximization of the health and well-being of gay, bisexual, two-spirit, queer and other guys who are into guys, whether or not by educating, addressing disparities in health outcomes, and delivery activities to support health and wellbeing. Formerly known as the Ottawa Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative, MAX is proud to be the first stand-alone GBT2Q men’s health organization in Ontario.
About ViiV Healthcare Canada
ViiV Healthcare is the only company dedicated to developing HIV treatment. Learn more about ViiV Healthcare and how we support the HIV / AIDS community at www.viivhealthcare.ca.
For more information contact:
Executive Director, MAX
O: 613-440-3237, email@example.com
ViiV Healthcare Canada Public Affairs O: 613-233-8906, firstname.lastname@example.org