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New Funds
to Fight Crystal Meth Use

New Funds
to Fight Crystal Meth Use

President Bush has signed a bill awarding the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the New York City-based HIV/AIDS organization, $303,000 in federal funds to fight the use of crystal methamphetamine, reports

In a 2004 study by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and the National Coalition of STD Directors, crystal meth users were more than twice as likely to be HIV-infected, nearly twice as likely to contract gonorrhea, and five times as likely as non-crystal users to be diagnosed with syphilis.

GMHC views its first-ever federal appropriation as a unique opportunity to reach out to individuals who are struggling with crystal meth use and provide them with the information and tools to help them prevent becoming infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, said Marjorie J. Hill, GMHC's chief executive officer.

Janet Weinberg, its senior managing director of development and legislative funding, said the money comes just in time: "HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men in the United States are up 13% since 2001. In New York City infections among young MSM are up by one third. Crystal meth is one factor fueling this rise in HIV infections among gay men.

"This funding will allow us to warn people of the risks of crystal meth before they start using and to get users into treatment."

The legislation, sponsored by New York's U.S. senators, Democrats Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, also allocated $176 million domestically for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in 2009, though the Bush administration had sought an additional $28 million for them.

Sean Cahill, managing director for public policy, research and community health at GMHC, said that the organization was disappointed that millions will still be spent on "harmful and ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage education, and still contains the restriction banning the use of federal funds for syringe exchange." (The Advocate)

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