San Francisco Health Officials, Residents Discuss Crystal Meth Use, HIV Risk
San Francisco officials and residents on Wednesday attended a City Hall forum to discuss the growing crystal methamphetamine problem that has led to high-risk behavior among men who have sex with men, which some officials say could lead to increased HIV incidence, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Approximately 150 people attended the event, where officials debated possible methods to curb the growing use of the drug (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/8). The issue was recently highlighted in a Chronicle series, which said that at one health clinic, 30% of men newly diagnosed with HIV infection last year reported using crystal meth. According to the Chronicle, gay or bisexual men in California who use the drug are twice as likely as gay or bisexual men who do not use the drug to be HIV-positive (California Healthline, 5/5). Gay or bisexual men who use crystal meth also are less likely to use condoms, putting them at a higher risk of HIV infection or infection with another sexually transmitted diseases, according to the Chronicle. Health experts said that more money is needed for prevention and counseling because mental health problems often underlie an individual's decision to use the drug. State and municipal budget shortfalls are forcing the city Department of Public Health to make deep cuts, according to the Chronicle. Steven Tierney, director of HIV prevention for the public health department, said that remaining health funds need to be put to "smarter use." Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who called for the hearing, asked business leaders to contribute to treatment programs. Attendees also discussed establishing 24-hour "sober centers," where gay or bisexual men who use crystal meth could socialize or get peer counseling. Dufty added that the meeting "was only the beginning of the discussion" on how to address the issue of crystal meth use among gay or bisexual men, according to the Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.