Sex, meth and Internet spark new AIDS fears

New York. Jan 18 | Updated: Jan 19 2007, 05:32am hrs
An hour after speaking at a Crystal Meth Anonymous meeting about the benefits of sobriety to dozens of other recovering addicts, Charlie was alone in his Chelsea apartment, logged onto the website

He cruised the sites profiles of muscular gay men who want to meet for sex while high on methamphetamine, and found his match: a 50-year-old man from Manhattans Upper East Side who liked to slam the drug, or inject it directly into the bloodstream.

I blew two-and-a-half years of sobriety in a few hours, said Charlie, who did not want to give his last name. All I had to do was log on, and it just so happens that it was right there.

In New York, thousands of gay men use the websites, and as an easy way to meet for sex marathons at underground orgies while high on the addictive stimulant.

Similar sites exists in other cities. The phenomenon while affecting only a small part of the gay community underscores the spread of meth from the US rural areas where it gained an early foothold.

Health officials worry that the ease in using the Web to find meth which erases inhibitions and judgment and creates a voracious sexual appetite and people to do it will fuel a resurgence among gays in infections of HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.

About half of new patients diagnosed with HIV by counselors at Callen-Lorde Community Health Centre, New Yorks largest private clinic for gay men, said that meth or alcohol was a factor, said Gal Mayer, the centres medical director.

Men who are high on meth are four times more likely to have unprotected sex than those who arent, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

These men use meth to escape and forget about their positive HIV status, said Michael Siever, director of San Franciscos Stonewall Project, a counseling programme for gay and bisexual men who use crystal meth.