A FORUM about crystal meth use among people living with HIV will be held at Melbourne’s The Peel Hotel later this month.

The forum, Is Tina in Town?, is organised by Living Positive Victoria and will explore methamphetamine use within the community of people living with HIV (PLHIV) away from media hype and stigma.

Methamphetamine — otherwise known as crystal meth, ice or “Tina” — has received considerable mainstream media attention following a Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamine, and from the recent 2014 Australian Drugs Conference: Ice and Altered Realities.

Living Positive Victoria (LPV) vice president Richard Keane was invited to the opening of the Ice and Altered Realities conference to speak about the lived experience of methamphetamine use and HIV/Hepatitis co-infection.

In his speech, he called for an open dialogue between care providers and those with the experience of problematic drug use.

“I feel there is a very hostile environment surrounding the use of crystal meth across the community,” he said.

“The media sensationalism of the ice ‘pandemic’, particularly around people who are HIV-positive and gay men, is not helpful

“We must engage with those directly affected. It is within these conversations that some of the answers and a more unified and mature response may be found.”

LPV has commissioned a special report on this issue in partnership with The Institute of Many (TIM), a social umbrella group for PLHIV, which will be presented at the forum by TIM co-founder Nic Holas.

Other guests and specialists at the forum include Professor Margaret Hellard from the Burnet Institute and observations from clinical care expert Bill O’Loughlin.

“We know that crystal meth use occurs in our community. We also know the incredible stigma that surrounds this drug,” LPV executive director Brent Allan said.

“[The forum] is about us as a community taking control of an issue away from stigma and exploring how we can best direct our efforts to help those individuals experiencing problematic drug use.”

Is Tina is Town? will be held on Wednesday, November 19, from 6pm to 8.30pm at The Peel Hotel, Peel St, Collingwood. RSVP here

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