A US study has shown young men-who-have-sex-with men (MSM) and use crystal meth are at a higher risk of contracting HIV.
The research – published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine – found an association between young MSM who use crystal meth and high-risk sexual behavior.
The study recruited 595 adolescent boys and men aged from 12 to 24 years and all reported being sexually active with other males.
Participants were asked a series of questions on their drug use and sexual behavior.
Compared with those in the study who had not recently used crystal meth, meth users showed to have a higher history of sexually transmitted diseases (51 percent vs. 21 percent) and two or more sex partners in the past 90 days (85 percent vs. 63 percent).
Meth users were also more likely to have had sex with an IV drug user (51 percent vs. 10 percent) or someone with HIV (32 percent vs. 11 percent).
Meth users were also less likely to use condoms during every sexual encounter (33 percent vs. 54 percent).
Study authors admit there were some limitations with the study in that it did not clearly establish a cause/effect relationship between crystal meth use and high-risk behavior, or the other way around. Rather, researchers found there was a clear association for both.
The study also recruited participants from high-risk urban settings which may not accurately represent all young MSM.
In Australia researchers are divided as to the association between gay men’s use of crystal meth and rates of HIV.
A 2008 La Trobe University report – Crystal Clear – found little evidence to prove MSM (of any age) who use crystal meth changed their sexual behaviour under the influence of the drug.
“Australian and international research suggests that frequent and intense use of crystal methamphetamine is most common among a very small cohort of gay men engaged in what has been termed ‘adventurous sex’” the report said.
“Among this subpopulation of gay men, crystal methamphetamine is not the cause of risky sexual behaviours but rather its use is one of a number of ways of increasing the range and intensity of sexual experience.”