Sunday, April 03, 2005

Gays Rally Against Methamphetamine Addiction

Methamphetamine use has been linked with a spread of a new virulent strain of HIV in the Gay community (by a gay man who frequented Methamphetamine - fueled sex parties).

New York's Gay community is fighting back. Read the story here:

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's a Friday evening, traditional kickoff time for the party scene in New York's gay community, but the 75 men packed into a small room at a gay health center aren't in a partying mood. Through a humbling 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, they are battling to kick their addiction to methamphetamine, and in doing so escape an epidemic that is roiling urban gay communities nationwide with disease, despair, embarrassment and anger.

Meth is an equal-opportunity menace - many thousands of men and women, gay and straight, have fallen prey to it in rural villages, placid suburbs and city slums. But gay leaders in New York, California and elsewhere bluntly acknowledge that their communities have distinctive problems with the drug, and an unavoidable responsibility to combat it.

"Years from now we'll look back, as gay men, and be pretty despondent that we popularized and glamorized this drug," said Dan Carlson, an ex-addict who has become one of New York's leading anti-meth campaigners.

"I'm not anti-partying or anti-sex," he said. "But how can we fight for our rights as a sexual minority if we don't establish what's right and wrong in our community, and look out for each other."

Crystal meth - which can be snorted, smoked or injected - has been a popular gay party drug on the West Coast for more than a decade, and in New York since the late 1990s. In many cities, however, gay activists and health officials were not quick to confront the fact that the drug, by curbing inhibitions and boosting energy, encourages unsafe multi-partner sex and thus increases the risk of HIV transmission.

In New York, alarm over meth intensified in February, when health officials reported a rare strain of highly resistant, rapidly progressing HIV in a gay man who regularly engaged in meth-fueled sex parties. But the tide began turning against the drug a year earlier, when gay activists held the first of several forums on the epidemic and an ex-addict named Peter Staley circulated posters with an eye-catching message: "Buy Crystal. Get HIV Free."

Staley, a bond trader-turned-AIDS activist, is guardedly optimistic that the forums and ad campaigns are helping stigmatize the drug.

"A year and a half ago, this was a whispered-about epidemic," he said. "If it came up, it was someone bragging about their wild weekend on meth, and no one had the courage to say, 'What the hell are you laughing about?..."

Another story is here.

And another here.

Straight or Gay Methamphetamine remains an Unnecessary Epidemic which needs to be terminated.

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