San Francisco Health Officials, Public Discuss Crystal Meth Use That Has Led to High-Risk Behavior Among MSM
San Francisco officials and the public on Wednesday attended a City Hall forum to discuss the growing crystal methamphetamine problem that has led to high-risk behavior among men who have sex with men, which some officials say could lead to increased HIV incidence, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Approximately 150 people attended the event where officials debated possible methods to curb the growing use of the drug (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/8). 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. According to the Chronicle, MSM in California who use the drug are twice as likely as MSM who do not use the drug to be HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/7). MSM who use crystal meth are also less likely to use condoms, putting them at a higher risk of HIV infection or infection with another sexually transmitted diseases, according to the Chronicle. Health experts said that more money is needed to go toward prevention and counseling because mental health problems often underlie an individual's decision to use the drug. State and municipal budget shortfalls are forcing the city Department of Public Health to make "deep" cuts, according to the Chronicle. Steven Tierney, director of HIV prevention for the health department, said that remaining health funds need to be put to "smarter use," according to the Chronicle. Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who called for the hearing, asked business leaders to contribute to treatment programs. Attendees also discussed establishing 24-hour "sober centers" where MSM who use meth could socialize or get peer counseling. Dufty added that the meeting "was only the beginning of the discussion" on how to address the issue of crystal meth use among MSM, according to the Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.