Gay Men’s Crystal Meth, Viagra Use Increases STDs

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Gay men who combine the drugs crystal meth and Viagra run a greater chance of getting sexually transmitted diseases than nonusers, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Figures show men who have sex with other men and use both crystal methamphetamines and the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra were six times more likely to contract syphilis than those who do not use either, a researcher said at a national conference on sexually transmitted disease prevention.

The findings published in Philadelphia come as the use of the two drugs are on the rise among gay men. The use of crystal meth has been highlighted by gay advocates as endemic at bath houses, which have seen a resurgence in recent years after drug cocktails have helped people live with HIV (news – web sites).

With the national incidence of syphillis increasing over the past three years, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (news – web sites) study found gay men were at the highest risk of contracting STDs. The gay community has been the focus of prevention efforts by U.S. health care authorities including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news – web sites).

“The increased threat of syphillis and other STDs among gay and bisexual men is being driven in part by a troubling combination of drug use and complacency,” said Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of HIV, STD and tuberculosis prevention programs at the federal center.

“The CDC is very concerned about this data,” he added. “We have a real challenge here dealing with the American public that is clearly uncomfortable talking about sexually transmitted infections.”

Crystal meth use also makes men more likely to have unprotected sex with other men, according to the CDC. The research found 16% of 388 gay men took the drug the last time they had anal sex, and that users were twice as likely to have unprotected sex as nonusers .

CDC data shows the national incidence of primary and secondary syphilis rose last year to 7,082 from 6,862 in 2002. Since a national upturn began in 2000, the overall infection rate has jumped 18%, with a 65% rise among men but a 50% decline among women.

Among gay men, the incidence of syphilis multiplied 12 times between 1999 and 2003, the CDC found.
Source www.dpna.org online 15.03.04

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