In 1997, the Stop AIDS Project posed a very important question to some movers and shakers in San Francisco’s gay community: What are the most important issues around HIV transmission among gay men? Merchants in the Castro and SoMa mentioned speed as something that would ultimately affect their customers and thus the business in their venues.
Stop AIDS Project then took the question to a larger audience when they created “talking walls” in the Castro, SoMa and on their website; walls, real and virtual, upon which the community at large were encouraged to offer their answers to the same question. At the end of this outreach effort, the volunteers and staff of Stop AIDS Project determined that guys throughout San Francisco were identifying speed as an issue and thus a social marketing campaign addressing speed and HIV was born.
The first part of the campaign was Crissy and featured different images and messages, all rolled out over a down and dirty four-month period in the summer of 1997. The Crissy campaign, which appeared in gay bars, sex venues and bus shelters in the Castro and SoMa, was meant to encourage discussion and raise consciousness about the link between speed use and sexual risk-taking.
On 30 June 1997, part two was launched when tweaker.org went live! The website continued through about 1999 when its funding was canceled and it became a static and dormant web address. Two years later, in mid-2001, the Stonewall Project was funded to create a peer-based outreach program. The Stonewall folks decided to resurrect tweaker.org as the web-based aspect of this outreach. In 2002, with the help of a project team made up of peer educators, volunteers and staff, the website was relaunched with a new face, a new focus and newly invigorated passion.
The current cohort of peer educators, volunteers and staff have continued to shape and reshape all aspects of tweaker.org, including the website, print materials, live events and outreach at street fairs and sex clubs. For sure, we’ve taken some of the site in different directions since 2002, but we’ve been building on the original work all along. In July 2007, tweaker.org was taken into the fold of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
In 2019, tweaker.org was relaunched again to incorporate new mobile technologies.