AIDS and Crystal Meth: A New Battleground
> 2/22/2006 9:52:34 AM

As the methamphetamine epidemic spreads, health workers and counselors have to adapt to the changing landscape. One of the most prominent and frightening new scenes in this conflict is the gay minority community in New York City. This recent New York Times article details one former addict's efforts to try to not only educate about the dangers of crystal meth, but to stop the devastating spread of HIV that has accompanied the drugs rise.

The article points out some disturbing trends.
A recent study of 19,000 men in Los Angles showed that new H.I.V. infections were three times higher among methamphetamine users than among nonusers. Further, drug abuse experts and some law enforcement officials in New York say they fear that the drug could follow the trajectory of another stimulant that spread violent crime, death and the dissolution of communities across New York City a generation ago: crack cocaine.

The article continues:
Like AIDS itself, which was once largely confined to the world of white gay men, the abuse of crystal meth is beginning to find favor among those who live far from Chelsea.

In a recent New York University study of 312 crystal meth users, 32 percent were white, 23 percent were Latino and 22 percent were black. At a methamphetamine support group run by Gay Men's Health Crisis, blacks now make up more than 10 percent of the participants, up from fewer than two percent in 2001.

As the article points out, the crystal meth epidemic has created a public health concern that extends far beyond the reach of its users. The implications of the spread of HIV effects not only the users who engage in risky sexual behaviors, but the partners of those users and the partners of those users' partners, and on and on. While Terry Evans's quest is a noble one, he remains only one man. Until we commit the type of funds necessary to increase public awareness and provide support to those on the front lines, the epidemic's threat to the public will only continue to grow.

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