Don Baxter of AFAO had expressed concerns some new HIV infections occurred during crystal bingeing, but not everyone agreed. The jury is still out, ACON said. You can’t demonise the drug, NDARC said.

Then at an HIV educators’ conference in May, data was revealed that showed there was no causal link between crystal use and the rise in HIV. Again the conclusions were debated, but by now all agreed the drug was a problem for different reasons.

Anecdotal reports of crystal addicts having psychotic episodes and losing their jobs were rife. The drug had been singled out for high-profile campaigns in San Francisco and New York City as a serious health problem. Would it happen here? Was it happening already?

By September sex club Signal began posting their own campaign warning of the dangers of crystal use, in lieu of any official program from ACON. The campaign images were produced by New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and featured a series of slogans warning about a possible link between getting high and having unsafe sex. ACON said a campaign would be released before Sleaze, and CEO Stevie Clayton hinted certain funding bodies are not particularly interested in funding gay and lesbian work.

What Clayton did not say, but the Star revealed the following week, was that the federal government rejected an ACON crystal campaign despite the application getting a priority one recommendation from the Health Department.

And so with no funding, ACON ran their first community forums in October 2004, drawing a mixed response from the crowd. Researchers for ACON insisted again there was no causal link between crystal use and unsafe sex, and president Adrian Lovney declared we shouldn’t be driving our response by anecdote.

By the second set of forums, Stevie Clayton revealed ACON might start its own Narcotics Anonymous group and, following a barrage of horror stories by community members, she said anecdotes would be properly heard. The debate continues.

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