Crystal meth usage high amongst gay men – linked to ‘HIV infection’

[T]here is one small sub-group [where crystal meth] is having a disproportionate effect…: gay men on the extreme end of the party scene in London, where it’s being linked to a worrying rise in HIV.

…The drug can be smoked, snorted and swallowed, but increasing numbers of gay men in the capital are injecting it, sharing needles and combing it with other drugs and high-risk sexual activity. It’s often taken at “chill-outs” and sex parties, organised on social networking sites, where men engage in sex with a number of different people.

…A new report compiled by the London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medicine recently revealed three times as many gay and bisexual men in London inject drugs than in England as a whole. The analysis also found that four times as many use crystal meth in the capital than across the rest of the country.

…At the heart of the problem, he says, are issues around self-esteem, intimacy, sexual identity and internalised homophobia.

A sensitive community takes drugs and gets ill… Why blame HIV?

[Source: Channel 4 News]

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Free crack pipes to combat AIDS… Ok… Whatever you say…

When things couldn’t get more ridiculous, there’s been – admittedly ridiculed – talk about giving free crack pipes as an outreach effort to pull crack users into health programmes.

As the Republican representative says “What next? Free crack!”

Just like clean needles only encourage drug use, so would free crack pipes. Target the drug, not the paraphernalia.

[Source: GlobalGrind]

Alcoholism/AIDS?

A study led by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) provides new insight into the impact that pro-inflammatory molecules have on early death in HIV patients who abuse alcohol. The findings, published online in the journal AIDS, pinpoint the inflammatory markers most associated with early death and may help explain why some patients die earlier than others even when all of these patients are on antiretroviral therapy.

…Independently, alcohol abuse and chronic hepatitis C infection have also been associated with higher levels of inflammation in the bodies of HIV infected persons. However, it was previously unknown if the elevated inflammatory state in these patients was due to their HIV or other independent risk factors.

…Although these patients represent a population already at high risk of mortality from many problems (smoking, drug abuse, homelessness, etc.), most deaths in the study period were a result of either HIV or hepatitis C. Adjusting for known risk factors, such as age, smoking and hepatitis status, the researchers found that an increased burden of inflammation was strongly associated with increased mortality in alcohol-abusing HIV patients. This association was found, regardless of whether or not patients were taking their antiretroviral drugs.

Well, alcoholism impairs the liver, an organ responsible for detoxification and the conversion of immune-enhancing vitamin D to its active form. So, why not reasonably say that alcohol is reasonably one cause of AIDS?

[Source: ScienceDaily]

Heroin screws you up… Don’t die of ignorance

As the 30th anniversary of the Gallo-Heckler announcement approaches, it’s pertinent to look back at a couple of British ad campaigns from the 1980s.

The most famous one was the ‘iceberg’ ad in which AIDS is chiselled on a tombstone along to ominous music and a dire voiceover from John Hurt.

Around about the same time – I think afterwards – in response to growing data on heroin abuse, the government, most likely through the same ad production company for the above advert – owing to a stylistic similarity – produced the ‘Heroin Screws You Up’ campaign. One example is:

Note that one symptom of heroin abuse dramatised here is that of a particularly bad flu; a symptom that is often seen as one of the early latent-period signs of HIV infection.

Instead of connecting rising drug abuse to AIDS, HIV superfluously muddied the picture, at the cost of human life.