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Experts warn of
too much emphasis on crystal meth

Experts warn of
too much emphasis on crystal meth

Although preventing crystal methamphetamine use among gay men helps reduce the chances they'll become infected with HIV, fighting use of the drug should be only one piece of the HIV prevention puzzle, AIDS experts told the Bay Area Reporter. Crystal meth has a clear link with HIV risks--studies in San Francisco show that about 30% of new infections among gay residents are connected with use of the drug.

But HIV prevention experts say that other issues--like depression, low self-esteem, and abuse of other drugs and alcohol--also are significant factors that can lead gay men to engage in unprotected sex, and they should not be ignored by focusing too much on preventing crystal meth use.

"Crystal is not the only drug or substance folks are using," Steven Tierney, deputy director of programs at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and cochairman of the Mayor's Task Force on Crystal Methamphetamine, told BAR. "The whole HIV/STD prevention world has stopped focusing on alcohol. It is really important to look at that."

Openly gay city supervisor Bevan Dufty agrees, and says he hopes the task force's work can be a model for programs focusing on reducing other HIV risk factors, including the abuse of other drugs. (

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