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While crystal meth use was at one time largely confined to New York City's gay white male population, use of the drug has spread to African-American and Latino gay men in the city, groups already at high risk for HIV infection, The New York Times reports. A recent New York University study of meth users showed 32% were white, 23% were Latino, and 22% were African-American. At New York City's Gay Men's Health Crisis, about 10% of members of a support group for meth users are African-American, up from just 2% in 2001.
The rise in meth use among minority gay men has health officials worried. HIV already disproportionately affects African-Americans; studies have shown nearly half of urban gay black men are HIV-positive. And with other research showing that meth users are up to three times more likely to be infected with HIV than nonusers, health officials are worried that HIV rates are going to skyrocket among gay Latino and African-American men who use the drug.
To help fight meth use among minorities in the city, the Latino Commission, with funding from the city health department, has begun placing Spanish-language educational material on the Internet and in city bars and clubs. The Positive Health Project has staff members working to educate Internet users about the dangers of crystal meth and HIV, even by entering chat rooms popular among minority men looking to "party-n-play," a term meaning to meet up, take crystal meth, and have sex--usually unprotected sex--under the influence of the drug. Some PHP members also attend private sex parties in the city, where meth use and unprotected sex are common, to urge attendees to use condoms. Other groups, like Harlem United, are launching support groups for minority meth users in an effort to slow the spread of the drug. (Advocate.com)