Crystal Meth Use Can Increase High-Risk Sexual Activity, Lead To Increase in Number of HIV/AIDS Cases, Study Says
Crystal methamphetamine use can "spark high-risk sex" and might have contributed to a recent increase in the number of new HIV/AIDS cases reported in South Florida, according to a study published in the March issue of AIDS and Behavior, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Steven Kurtz, a researcher at the University of Delaware's Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies in Coral Gables, Fla., and colleagues interviewed 15 crystal meth users ages 33 to 50 in Miami Beach and Wilton Manors, Fla., to examine the motivations and consequences of crystal meth use among men who have sex with men. The researchers found that crystal meth can lower inhibitions and create "artificial feelings of intimacy" and that the men interviewed participated in "weekend-long parties that included unprotected sex among multiple partners," according to the Sun-Sentinel. Although the findings reflect those of similar studies, Kurtz said that because the study population was small, the findings cannot be applied generally to MSM. However, the study shows that crystal meth can play a "big role" in the rising number of HIV cases among MSM, especially those who feel "ostracized from mainstream society," Kurtz said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "Anecdotally, everyone knows this is going on," Kevin Garrity, executive director of the South Beach AIDS Project, said, adding, "This gives us the scientific proof of the hypersexuality that crystal meth can cause" (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 4/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.