Stigmatizing Crystal Meth
August 1, 2003
Gary Leigh is on a mission to bring facts about crystal methamphetamine to the gay community. Last year he launched lifeormeth.com, a Web site featuring facts and information about the drug and its impact on a user's body. The site does not downplay the negatives of crystal use or tell users that they can take steps to mitigate the drug's harm as some other sites do, said Leigh.
"Crystal more powerfully impairs one's capacity to engage in safe sexual behavior," said Paul Galatowitsch, director of study recruitment and community outreach at the Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training (CHEST). "One of the principal reasons for this is, unlike other drugs, crystal is an extraordinarily powerful aphrodisiac." "It can interact with HIV medications causing deadly interactions. ... Crystal has been shown to increase HIV viral activity in the brain and it accelerates HIV-related dementia," Galatowitsch said. CHEST has done ten studies looking at gay men's sex lives and drug use since 1997.
"Everybody in the club scene knows somebody who has been harmed by it and yet they are continuing to take it," Leigh said. He does not believe harm reduction can apply to crystal use. "Harm reduction implies that you can control the habit," Leigh said. While CHEST does not have a position on harm reduction for crystal users, Galatowitsch said, "Crystal has unique pharmacological properties that preclude safe usage." "Its pharmacological effects on the brain and the body make it impossible to use safely," he said.
Gay City News (New York City)
07.18.03; Duncan Osborne
Meth Use, HIV Infection Linked to Changes in Brain Structure That Can Impair Cognitive Functions, Study Says
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.