Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Gay Men Organize Their Battle Against Crystal Methamphetamine

I've been expressing in various posts to this blog the seriousness of Meth Addiction among gay men. Well, there has been a concerted effort on some fronts to combat this addiction and its link to HIV.

The Associated Press ran an article over the weekend on this subject. According to the writer, David Crary, in the bigger cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco and LA, there are Meth Anonymous support groups having attendence of more than 100 guys who are struggling with this addiction.

On a recent Friday evening at the New York group, the evening's speaker, a former flight attendent celebrating one year off meth, riveted the audience with his account of his unhappy childhood, "his descent into prolonged addition, his years as a hustler getting paid for sex, where he contacted HIV and other diseases".

Since gay men have different opinions on what makes them feel good during sex, the program offers alternative counseling to the "cold turkey" method. It's called "harm reduction" whick cautions the user about meth's risks while advising addicts who can't quit to avoid overdoses, take care of their health, and while high, engage in safer sex using a condom.

One gay psychotherapist was quoted as saying, "At some point, when Friday night comes along, they don't know what else to do." What seemingly was thought to be a recreation drug has turn monster and has become an addiction.

Some argue against all the hype, saying that the rest of the world is now believing that gay men are having promiscuous sex, with out of control behavior. Such belief, may not be so far off base.
According to the article, it is estimated that as many as 10 to 20 percent of gay men use meth, and the usage maybe as high as 40 percent in San Francisco.

Another NY psychologist who specializes in the study of HIV/AIDS and drugs believes that the cause of meth addiction for many gay men is not sex or partying, but deeper problems of siolation and low self esteem, particularly if they are HIV positive. There may be some truth to that. These guys feel that their lives have been shorten, particularly in their prime active years, and want to go out in a blaze of glory, not giving a fuck about the other guys they infect, particularly HIV-negative men.

Experts also say that many men in the HIV-positive category are experincing "safe-sex Fatique". They are tired of using condoms and the cocktail to contain their HIV and are "lifted" by meth to forget their difficulties and engage in unsafe sex.

Jay Laudato, director of the Callen-Lorde health center which serves the NY gay community says, "Safer sex is not everybody's idea of a good time." Well that opinion got to change. This continual usage of meth at circuit parties and other events makes the idea of having a good time something like playing russian roulette. It scares other guys and for others, influences their judgement and makes them prone to meth usage and getting HIV.

But the effects of using meth aren't pretty. The guys who already have HIV and are using meth look like they are waisting away. So if they were pumped up because of steroid use, etc, the meth now conteracts that, and they look like guys who were dying 15 years ago.

Safer sex advocates want to target the young men who are arriving in the big cities and send out the message that meth isn't cool and it can lead to HIV because it inhibits the gay men to engage in unsafe sex.

So what to do. Some feel that engaging the porn community might help. If someone would emerge as a poster boy for hot safer sex, I think that might work.

We as gay men, can set examples ourselves by writing about this problem in our blogs and offering hot sex examples for these guys to follow.

While it may take more than big hairy muscle hugs and body food foreplay, this might just be the start of a new scene which promotes hot safer, erotic sex, the real drug that can combat the spread of HIV among sexually active gay men.

1 comment:

Jason Appleby said...

Yeah - crystal is a big problem over here in Sydney too. Unfortunately, the meth problem over here is exacerbated by the attitude of the AIDS Council over here who aren't convinced of a link between meth use and HIV infection - to quote one person "Sydney is different to San Francisco or New York".

Funnily enough, though Australia also has a better public health care system (generally) than the US, we're still having trouble establishing good services for people caught in the crystal trap.