California Launches Campaign Aimed To Discourage MSM From Using Crystal Meth, Reduce High-Risk Sexual Activity
California drug officials on Thursday launched an $11 million media campaign that aims to discourage men who have sex with men from using crystal methamphetamine, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the Times, crystal meth has been linked to risky sexual behavior and the spread of HIV.
According to a statewide survey, crystal meth use was 11 times more common among MSM than the general population in California. Fifty-five percent of 549 MSM surveyed said they had used the drug, compared with 5% of the general population (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 3/14). In addition, the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center in 2007 found that MSM who used crystal meth during the previous year were five times more likely to test HIV-positive than MSM who did not use the drug (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/12/07).
The campaign will use billboards, buses, cable television and a Web site to discourage MSM from using the drug. Mike Rizzo, the center's manager of crystal meth recovery services, praised the campaign, especially the Web site, which allows people to post videos about their experiences and the consequences of using the drug. Rizzo said that the Web site will appeal to young people and that the videos portray meth use in a way that is "real and relatable and not easily dismissed as being overly alarmist." The site, menotmeth.org, allows users to add their own videos and also provides links to locations where people can access services, the Times reports.
Michelle Roland, chief of the AIDS office at the California Department of Public Health, said, "Not only can [crystal meth use] increase the likelihood of having unprotected sex, but people are also having more sex with more partners and having sex for a longer period of time, increasing the likelihood" of HIV transmission. She added that women and heterosexual men who use meth are at an increased risk for sexually transmitted infections as well.
Renee Zito, director of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, said that although the campaign is directed at MSM, it applies to anyone who uses or is tempted to use crystal meth. She added that the campaign is "about loss, really -- of family, friends, their looks, jobs, who they are. It essentially gets down to 'I lost myself'" (Los Angeles Times, 3/14).