New York City Health Workers Say Crystal Meth Use Helping to Spread HIV Among Men Who Have Sex With Men
January 12, 2004
Methamphetamine use among men who have sex with men has fueled a "sharp increase" in the number of new syphilis cases and could lead to a "resurgence" of HIV infection, according to New York City health officials, the New York Times reports. New York City HIV/AIDS specialist Dr. Howard Grossman said that more than 50% of men who tested HIV-positive in his private practice said that methamphetamine use led to the risky behavior that led to their HIV infections, according to the Times. "This drug is destroying our community," Grossman said, adding, "It just seems to be getting worse and worse, and no one is doing anything about it." Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or crystal, "erases inhibitions and spurs sex marathons with multiple partners," health officials say. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene does not track methamphetamine use among individuals newly infected with HIV, but the city's poison control center received approximately 48 methamphetamine overdose reports in 2002 and 2003, compared with no such reports during the previous two years, according to the Times. New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden said that a survey showed that HIV-positive men are twice as likely to use methamphetamine as HIV-negative men, adding that men who use methamphetamine are less likely to wear condoms during anal intercourse, according to the Times. "We're seeing a general increase in risky sexual behavior, and we're concerned," Frieden said. The Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the city's largest private clinic for lesbians and gays, reported that two-thirds of individuals who tested HIV-positive since June 2003 said that methamphetamine use was a factor in their infection, according to the Times.
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