Some Medical Experts Say Methamphetamine Use Among Gay Men in Atlanta Becoming ‘Crisis’
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday examined the connection between methamphetamine use and risky sexual behavior -- including an increased risk of HIV transmission -- among men who have sex with men, a practice that some therapists and medical experts say has become a "crisis." According to a recent CDC study, gay men who use meth are twice as likely as other gay men to have unprotected sex. In addition, men who use meth are more than three times as likely as other men to be HIV-positive, according to a study conducted by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. AIDS organizations in San Francisco and New York have begun education campaigns targeting the practice of MSM using meth -- which can produce feelings of euphoria and hypersexuality -- and engaging in risky behavior, the Journal-Constitution reports. However, John Ballew, an Atlanta therapist who has a large MSM clientele, said that the problem is "just as bad [in Atlanta] as (in) New York or San Francisco or Los Angeles." Although AIDS groups in Atlanta do not have meth-specific education campaigns, AID Atlanta has started a program to distribute condoms at clubs frequented by MSM, the Journal-Constitution reports. According to Ballew, meth can make men "go from feeling like wallflowers to feeling like supermen," and "[s]afer sex messages are just forgotten" when men are using the drug. Research has shown that meth use also damages the immune system and adversely interacts with antiretroviral drugs, making the drug more dangerous for HIV-positive people, according to the Journal-Constitution (McWhirter/Young Miller, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.