Cruising Counts Guide – 2016 A program guide for online sexual health outreach in Ontario

About This Guide

This guide has been produced to help AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) and other sexual health workers (such as public/sexual health nurses and HIV/STI testers) who provide direct, effective online sexual health outreach to gay, bisexual and other MSM (hereafter referred to as “guys online”). Over the last six years, organizations have increased their capacity to deliver important sexual health information as part of their HIV prevention programming to guys online. The S.H.E.I.R. guide (first edition) has been instrumental in this increased programmatic capacity in Ontario, throughout Canada and abroad (you will read more about this later when we review some of the local and international research evidence). The GMSH network has engaged in multiple discussions about how our online programs have and need to evolve as technology and the virtual world continues to expand. We recognize that technology and gay cultures/networks continue to change at dynamic rates—wherever possible, we have tried to capture this by referring to online outreach in a way that includes providing outreach from a computer (workstation or laptop) or a tablet (iPad) to our smartphones (mobile applications). We also recognize that guys online do not have a simple, single identity. They will come from wide-ranging socioeconomic backgrounds, have varying degrees of education and language skills, and be of various ethnicities, gender identities and differing HIV statuses—some of the latest evidence will demonstrate how and why online outreach can be effective at reaching some of these typically harder-to-reach sub-populations. When interacting with guys online, you (as program workers) will likely observe oppressive & problematic use(s) of language and be presented with accounts of bullying, racism and discrimination. As a worker in this environment, you must be sensitive to your own actions and use of language: your calm, reasonable approach will help to promote an online culture that fosters mutual respect, and an online environment more conducive to sexual health, fulfilment and empowerment. This guide will also discuss ways to be mindful of self-care when leading this kind of work online.

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