San Francisco Officials Should Address Crystal Meth Use, HIV Risk Among Gay, Bisexual Men as ‘Public Health Crisis,’ Editorial Says
When San Francisco officials meet tonight to discuss "escalating concerns" over crystal methamphetamine use and HIV risk among men who have sex with men, "they should treat it with the urgency of a public health crisis," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says. The issue was recently highlighted in a Chronicle series, which said that at one health clinic, 30% of men newly diagnosed with HIV infection last year reported using crystal meth. "Even more alarming" is that gay men in California who use the drug are twice as likely as gay men who do not use the drug to be HIV-positive, the Chronicle states, adding that "statistics alone can't convey the dangerous sexual behavior that is being practiced in the gay community." According to the editorial, condom use is lower among gay crystal meth users and "untold numbers" of HIV-negative people are beginning to use the drug, "making them more susceptible to risky behavior." Noting the "gay public bath debacle" that occurred 20 years ago when HIV first emerged, the editorial says that city health officials "know too well" what can happen when there is a "slow response to a public health crisis" and "political sensitivities override sound public health policy." The Chronicle concludes, "Whether it requires more stringent monitoring of the late-night club scene or launching public education and prevention programs to alter the rise in drug use and risky sexual behavior, city and state leaders need to move with all due speed to battle the epidemic" (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.