Meth Use on the Rise Among Gay and Bisexual Black and Hispanic Men in New York

Methamphetamine is growing in popularity among gay and bisexual black and Hispanic men in New York, according to The New York Times.

Meth can intensify sexual desire while delaying orgasm for hours, the article notes. Previously, the drug was popular among affluent white gay and bisexual men. Meth use moved underground when its use was linked to rising HIV infection rates.

Joseph Ruggiero, an addiction specialist who founded a group therapy program for gay and bisexual men who abuse meth, said initially 85 to 90 percent of participants were white. Starting two or three years ago, the program shifted to mostly black and Hispanic participants.

Therapists at the service agency Gay Men of African Descent in Brooklyn, which serves many men with HIV, say they are seeing a growing number of cases of meth use. Chris Johnson estimates as many as 20 percent of his 300 clients use meth. Another counselor said 30 or 40 percent use meth. Therapists at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the city’s largest clinic for lesbians and gay men, said they have also seen an increase in meth use.

Johnson said it is difficult to get clients to stop using meth. “We’ve had people that have come in here and they are in full psychosis,” he said. “You get them grounded, and then you send them back out to the same environment.”

Perry N. Halkitis, a psychologist at New York University who has researched meth use in New York, has found that most users are HIV-positive and black. He noted many black gay and bisexual men are dealing with multiple issues. Many have been ostracized by their families, or have fled Caribbean countries, where they were targets of violence because of their sexuality.

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