Gay Crystal Meth Epidemic: Is Prevention Working?


The gay community is in the midst of a crystal meth epidemic, says the Village Voice. Most HIV prevention campaigns targeted at crystal meth users are ridiculously shallow, says the paper. The government has prohibited funding from being used to disseminate the graphic sexual information needed to make informed decisions.

For example, most gay men do not know that crystal use can cause sores and abrasions in their mouths, transforming a generally low-risk behavior like oral sex into a high-risk behavior. Peter Staley helped spark the current wave of interest about meth addiction in New York. Even he says that he hasn’t heard about anything that’s working. “I’m very pessimistic about prevention campaigns,” he says. “I personally don’t believe that prevention campaigns change behavior. Gay men talking to gay men can change behavior.” Staley identifies changing “community norms” as a first step in dealing with the immediate problem of crystal use. He hopes to make crystal use analogous to heroin use–something so extreme as to be unacceptable. This type of campaign is called “environmental prevention.”


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