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New York launches
“Silence = Meth” campaign

New York launches
“Silence = Meth” campaign

Meth ad campaign hopes to raise awareness of meth dangers among gay men

To mark Monday's 25th anniversary of the first reported AIDS cases in the world, the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center launched a new ad campaign to battle the growing use of crystal methamphetamine among gay men, which studies have shown significantly boosts risky sexual behavior and HIV infection risks. The campaign, called "Silence = Meth," echoes the "Silence = Death" tagline used by the AIDS activist group ACT UP in the 1980s and 1990s. Center officials say they chose this theme to urge a response to the growing crystal meth epidemic similar in scope to the LGBT response to the AIDS epidemic and to draw attention to the deadly links between meth use and AIDS.

"Twenty-five years ago our community refused to be silent about AIDS," said Richard Burns, executive director of the center, in a press statement. "Just as the ACT UP campaign alerted the gay community to AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, the center's 'Silence = Meth' campaign will focus attention on the danger of crystal meth and what the entire community must do to help prevent abuse and addiction to this drug."

The center's ads will be posted throughout the predominantly gay Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The ads also carry the message "25 years ago, our community refused to be silent about AIDS. Today, we must not be silent about Crystal Meth." These ads are part of an ongoing campaign by the center and other groups in New York to raise awareness of the dangers of crystal meth use and to encourage gay men to stop using the drug or to avoid taking it if they've never used it.

In a 2006 survey of gay and bisexual men in New York City, approximately one in four indicated the use of crystal meth in the prior six months, making New York second only to San Francisco as the U.S. city with the greatest number of gay and bisexual men who use meth.

Studies have shown that many gay men engage in unprotected sex--often with multiple partners--while high on crystal meth. Gay men who use crystal meth are three to four times more likely to be HIV-positive than those who do not use the drug, researchers say. (The Advocate)

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