Author(s): Bolding G, Hart G, Sherr L, Elford J
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Abstract AIM: To examine the use of crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) and its association with high-risk sexual behaviour among gay men in London. DESIGN: Cross-sectional surveys using self-administered questionnaires. SETTINGS: National Health Service (NHS) out-patient human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment clinic in London; NHS HIV testing/sexual health clinics in London; central London gyms. PARTICIPANTS: HIV-positive gay men attending the HIV treatment clinic in 2002-03 (n = 388); HIV-negative gay men attending the HIV testing/sexual health clinics in 2002-03 (n = 266); gay men using the gyms between January and March 2003 (n = 445), 2004 (n = 653) and 2005 (n = 494). MEASUREMENTS: Percentage of gay men who reported: (i) using crystal meth in the previous 12 months; (ii) using other recreational drugs (e.g. cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine); (iii) high-risk sexual behaviour in the previous 3 months. FINDINGS: The percentage of gay men who had used crystal meth in the previous year varied by sample (HIV treatment clinic, 12.6\%; HIV testing/sexual health clinics, 8.3\%; gyms, 19.5\%; P < 0.001) but did not change over time in the gyms (19.8\%, 20.7\%, 17.8\%; P = 0.5). In all samples, the majority of men used crystal meth only once or twice a year. Most crystal meth users (> 80\%) had taken other recreational drugs. Crystal meth and other drug users were more likely to report high-risk sexual behaviour than other men, e.g. HIV treatment clinic sample: crystal meth users, 34.7\%; other drug users, 18.9\%, non-users, 10.6\%, P < 0.001. Cause and effect could not be established. CONCLUSION: Among gay men in London surveyed in clinics, approximately one in 10 reported using crystal meth in the previous 12 months (HIV-positive men 12.6\%; HIV-negative men 8.3\%). Most men used it infrequently--only once or twice a year. There was no evidence of increasing use of crystal meth between 2003 and 2005.
This article was published in Addiction
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy