Crystal Meth’s Popularity Among Young Men Who Have Sex With Men May Lead to Higher Risk of HIV
The Los Angeles Times Magazine on Sunday examined the growing use of crystal methamphetamine among young men who have sex with men and how the drug contributes to unprotected anal intercourse and HIV transmission. Crystal meth is often mixed with sex at "circuit parties," or "elegant, drug-drenched raves" held once a month in various locations that attract "thousands" of MSM from around the world. Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco interviewed MSM in Los Angeles in 1997 and 1998 and found that 12% had used the drug in the last six months, more than five times the percentage of use among the general population. This year, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding analyzed a CDC survey of about 3,000 gay and bisexual men -- which found 4.5% were infected annually with HIV -- to look at the connection between unprotected sex and crystal meth use. Fielding's analysis found that 56% of those surveyed who reported using crystal meth in the past six months also reported having unprotected anal sex, while 41% of MSM who did not use the drug had unprotected anal sex. Unprotected anal sex is "the most efficient sexual transmission route for HIV," the Times reports. The full article is available online at the Times Web site (Eichenthal, Los Angeles Times Magazine, 10/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.