NYC Should Implement Prevention Methods Used in L.A. To Curb Spread of HIV Among Male Crystal Meth Users
New York City only recently has begun to experience the crystal methamphetamine drug epidemic that originated in California a decade ago, and therefore the city has the "luxury of utilizing effective prevention programs that have proved effective" in Los Angeles for reducing the risk of HIV infection among male drug users who have unprotected sex with men, author Patrick Moore writes in a Long Island Newsday opinion piece (Moore, Long Island Newsday, 9/22). The number of new HIV infections among MSM has increased 18% nationwide since 1999, which some experts attribute to an increase in crystal meth use. Anecdotal evidence from New York City doctors suggests that crystal meth plays a role in 50% to 75% of new HIV cases in the city, although there is no conclusive scientific data on the subject (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/30). According to Moore, crystal meth use among MSM has been a "major factor" in increasing HIV/AIDS prevalence rates within the population. Therefore, New York City should focus its drug prevention programs on the impact of crystal meth on MSM, including HIV transmission, Moore says. However, "rather than reinventing the wheel," New York City should "quickly implement" effective programs that have been employed in Los Angeles, Moore says. These methods include providing more "specific, explicit information" about prevention methods other than condom use, implementing educational initiatives and outreach programs in the city's sex clubs and training HIV/AIDS educators in drug counseling in order to "provide a message truly targeted to their clients," Moore says. If New York implemented such programs, it "would be able to deal not only with the risk crystal (meth) represents" to MSM but "also plan for the near future," Moore says, concluding that use of the drug in California now has spread beyond MSM to "lawyers, construction workers, media executives and factory workers of all genders and sexual preferences. That is a future New York does not want" (Long Island Newsday, 9/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.