Denver Post Examines Meth Use Among Gay Men in Denver, Increase in Number of New HIV Cases
The Denver Post on Tuesday examined methamphetamine use in Denver among gay men and its possible link to an increase in the number of new HIV cases in the city. Recent surveys have found that meth use by MSM in Denver is double the usage rate in the general U.S. population -- similar to trends in cities such as Los Angeles and New York City -- the Post reports. According to a survey by Denver Public Health, 11% of MSM reported using meth in the last year. Mark Thrun, director of HIV prevention at DPH, said that five years ago, 10% of MSM reported using meth at least once in their lives. According to Thrun, less than 5% of the general population nationwide has reported using meth at least once (Herdy, Denver Post, 3/14). Many experts agree that meth use is a growing threat to MSM nationwide because it increases arousal and reduces inhibition, often encouraging people to seek multiple sexual partners, which could put MSM at an increased risk of contracting HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/16/05). According to the DPH survey, meth users were three times as likely to have had unprotected sex in the last 12 months compared with men who did not use meth. Twenty-one percent of men who said they were meth users were HIV-positive, the survey finds. According to the Post, the number of new HIV cases in Denver has risen from 115 in 2000 to 180 in 2004 -- with the 2005 estimate expected to be similar to the previous year's estimate. DPH spokesperson Cindy Parmenter attributed the rise in the number of new cases to increased HIV testing, meth use and casual sex between people meeting on the Internet. According to Colorado AIDS Project Executive Director Deirdre Maloney, CAP, with DPH, plans to open a center in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood that will provide HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing for gay men, as well as education and other services. The center will be funded by a three-year, $100,000 annual grant from CDC, Maloney said (Denver Post, 3/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.