Rate of Crystal Meth Use Among San Francisco MSM Decreased By About Half Over Past Two Years, Data Show
San Francisco men who have sex with men are using crystal methamphetamine at roughly half the rate they were two years ago, according to data collected by the Stop AIDS Project and analyzed by the city's Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Some experts said the data, which were collected through interviews rather than a scientific survey, might indicate that crystal meth use among MSM in San Francisco is decreasing, whereas the rate is increasing in other gay communities nationwide. According to Willi McFarland, epidemiologist for the city's Office of AIDS, 10% of the 4,197 San Francisco MSM interviewed between January and July said they had used the drug at some point during the previous six months. In 2003, 18% of respondents said they had used the drug in the previous six months. Although the men were not randomly selected, the consistency of the survey techniques and the questions asked make the data reliable to show trends, McFarland said (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4). Crystal meth users are at least three times as likely as nonusers to be HIV-positive, according to a research letter published in the Sept. 2 issue of the journal AIDS. The study was conducted by researchers from CDC, the University of California-San Francisco and the San Francisco public health department (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/17). Stop AIDS officials said several factors might have contributed to the decrease in meth use among MSM, including harm reduction-focused treatment, prevention campaigns, shifts in the drug's popularity and MSM's own experiences with the drug. "For us, this is a very good sentinel of a shift or a change," McFarland said. San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty, co-chair of a city task force examining meth use, said it is "certainly not an occasion to declare victory and move on" (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.