Crystal Meth Use Increasing High-Risk Sexual Activity Among Heterosexual Men, Could Lead to Increase in HIV Cases, Study Says
Crystal methamphetamine use is leading to an increase in high-risk sexual behavior among heterosexual men in Northern California, according to preliminary results of a study published Thursday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/17). According to a research letter published in the Sept. 2, 2005, issue of the journal AIDS, meth users are at least three times as likely as nonusers to be HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/17/05). The study, conducted by the California Department of Health Services' Office of AIDS, surveyed 1,000 heterosexual men in low-income neighborhoods in Northern California over two years. According to the study, 6% of participants revealed that they had used crystal meth over the past six months. The study finds that 30% of meth users had anal sex with female partners, compared with 12% of nonusers; 57% of meth users had multiple sex partners, compared with 26% of men who did not use meth; and 16% of meth users had had sex in exchange for money or drugs, compared with 4% of nonusers (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/17). The study says increasing HIV rates among heterosexuals and increased meth use nationwide "suggest the potential for meth to influence heterosexual transmission of HIV" (MMWR, 3/16). The findings also suggest that heterosexual men might benefit from similar HIV prevention programs that target meth use among men who have sex with men, the Chronicle reports (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/17). The researchers recommend that states adapt their prevention programs for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections "to include assessment for meth use with referrals to meth treatment, primary meth-prevention activities, and substance use treatment programs incorporating [STI]/HIV screening, testing and sexual-health promotion." The researchers also recommend that states adopt policies that promote collaboration between substance abuse experts and HIV/STI prevention advocates. The study is expected to be completed in June (MMWR, 3/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.