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On The Job

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 Categories // Community Events, Events, Media

Michael Burtch brings us to date on what’s been happening on the HIV Prevention front in Ottawa

With the success of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa’s sold out ‘No Pants, No Problem’  party last month, plans are currently underway to host a sequel in September! Originally conceived by Toronto’s Jessica Whitbread, Ottawa is looking to participate in the international edition of her famous party, joining Toronto, Mexico, Amsterdam, and others in a simultaneous live party feed! Be sure to watch this blog space and site for further details as they become available!

Distributing safer sex supplies, educational materials, party favours from , and helping with the front door and pants check made for a busy night! I wore a pair of tight blue boxer briefs from American Eagle that had hot dogs all over them, a cock ring designed by Ottawa’s George McBeth, and a free t-shirt from the new, invitation only poz dating site . (Look for the New York based social networking site on Facebook for more details!) The party was co-ed, and turned into quite the fashion show as many party goers changed into skimpier and skimpier underpants as the night progressed and the liquor flowed. One party goer was particularly fetching in his sheer, rainbow coloured, banana hammock, while another had us all hounding her about where she had bought her jean short inspired panties!  Thank you to everyone who made it out and took the time to talk to me about safer sex and what that could look like for them in their sex lives! Extra special thanks to DJ Skid Vicious, Gallery 101, After Stonewall, Venus Envy and my co-worker Zach Zimmel who did most of the leg work!

A few weeks later I had the privilege of joining a social media panel discussion on the use of social media in the AIDS sector. Organized by the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS), I was joined by PositiveLite’s own Bob Leahy and Xtra reporter Dale Smith. During the hour long discussion, we spoke about the roles and responsibilities of the mainstream media, the major HIV/AIDS issues covered by the Canadian media over the last 30 years, the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, assault and blackmail of HIV+ guys in Toronto, and community mobilization. A big special thanks is owed to CAS’s Communications Consultant Lauryn Kronick who organized a great discussion and took great care of her nervous speakers.


I get asked a lot about my role as the AIDS Committee of Ottawa’s Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) Outreach Coordinator and what it entails. PositiveLite publisher Brian Finch has asked that I share more about my work life with my readers to better inform them about what is being done on a community level to combat HIV. I’m happy too report that in Ottawa there are many diverse, sex-positive, informed, educational initiatives happening all over the city, as is evidenced above.  Ottawa is home to many great HIV/AIDS service organizations and social justice advocates working on issues pertaining to poz health, prevention, education, and support, and I want my readers to keep watching this space to learn more about them!

P.S. Last Thursday I got to excitingly debut my new outreach cork board at Gay Zone (420 Cooper) after spending almost ten hours pulling ads, researching trivia, finding campaigns, using agency developed materials, laminating, and surfing the web for vintage porn, to create a dynamic, colourful outreach tool to encourage conversation, and promote safer sex. I felt like a big, dorky kid doing arts and crafts, but I was really happy that so many people liked the finished product!  Next time any of my Ottawa readers are stopping in at Gay Zone for STI testing, I hope you’ll come by my outreach table and have a look  at it!

No Pants, No Problem, Jessica Whitbread, AIDS Committee of Ottawa, Canadian AIDS Society , Outreach,  Bob Leahy, Dale Smith, Gay Zone, Media, Brian Finch.  

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