San Diego County Leaders Should Increase Funding, Action To Curb Crystal Meth Use, Rising HIV Rates Among MSM
Elected and appointed officials in San Diego County, Calif., need to engage in more action and allocate more resources to address crystal methamphetamine use -- which is contributing to rising rates of HIV, syphilis and gonorrhea among men who have sex with men -- because it is their duty to protect the public's health, Steven Johnson, a health policy and government relations consultant, writes in a San Diego Union-Tribune opinion piece. In San Diego, the number of MSM diagnosed with syphilis annually has increased tenfold since 1999, and 38% of MSM diagnosed with syphilis last year said they used crystal meth, up from 22% in 2003, Johnson writes. In addition, according to a recent CDC study of MSM, meth users were twice as likely as nonusers to be HIV-positive, almost five times as likely to test positive for syphilis and nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhea, Johnson says. Although the gay and lesbian communities need to take the "primary responsibility" in dealing with the "twin epidemics" of crystal meth addiction and HIV, they need support from county leaders, Johnson writes. However, county leaders "have responded with indifference" to the problems, Johnson says, calling for "multipronged" efforts that "focus on fighting the disease of addiction and recognizing its role in spreading HIV, rather than demonizing those it impacts." The county should launch education campaigns that "talk to gay and bisexual men in their language" and bolster funds for mental health and substance abuse treatment, Johnson says (Johnson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.