April 03 2004 1:00 AM ET
AIDS Institute joins Florida's crystal meth campaign
The Miami-based AIDS Institute (formerly Florida AIDS Action) is joining forces with the United Foundation for AIDS, also based in Miami, in a targeted campaign designed to increase awareness of crystal meth abuse and its link to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. "Research is now backing what we in the field have known for years: There is a link between crystal methamphetamine use-abuse and rising sexually transmitted disease rates," notes Gene Copello, executive director of the AIDS Institute. "This is especially true among men who have sex with men. The trends are so alarming that United Foundation for AIDS, the AIDS Institute, and other organizations around the nation are partnering on the crystal methamphetamine prevention awareness campaign 'Meth = Death.' " UFA, with the support of the AIDS Institute, launched the "Meth = Death" campaign in September. Since then, the program has received international recognition and is currently being adapted for use in Orlando, Tampa, and St. Petersburg.
"The reason this campaign is effective is that we've taken our prevention messages to the next level," says UFA president Marc Cohen. "We're seeing the deadly impact of meth in our communities, and we're fighting back with a strong, clear, concise message: Meth = Death." The campaign ads, posters, and palm cards show decomposing skulls superimposed over the faces of drug users. The materials also list the side effects of meth abuse, including strokes, paranoia, psychotic episodes, skin lesions, convulsions, violent episodes, and cardiac arrest. Research from health officials in San Francisco also show that meth users are more than twice as likely to be HIV-positive than nonusers, are 1.7 times more likely to be infected with gonorrhea, and 4.9 times more likely to have syphilis.