Health officials in Boston say that a rise in syphilis infection rates in the city, particularly among gay and bisexual men, may be linked with a dramatic increase in the use of crystal methamphetamine in the gay community, the Boston Herald reports. Health commissioner John Auerbach says a task force formed last year to study the increase in syphilis infections found a high level of crystal use by gay men testing positive for new infections.
Although the city has no formal tracking system for crystal use, Sophie Godley, director of prevention and education at Boston's AIDS Action, says there is more than enough anecdotal information to link use of the drug with rises in sexually transmitted disease rates. "We're going to see incredible demands on our treatment facilities," Godley said. "We want to be ahead of the curve, and that's where we need to be investing prevention." The syphilis task force will hold a conference in April on the meth-syphilis connection and will focus on "the dangers as it spreads out into the general population," Auerbach said.