Dallas Voice . com
Mar 9, 2006
Investigator attributes club-drug abuse to problems with early
self-identification, more frequent associations with other drug users
In a survey from Canada, gay or bisexual students were 17 times more likely to try methamphetamine or other “club drugs” than their non-gay counterparts.
The study of high school students surveyed in Vancouver and Victoria showed that 14 percent had tried the drugs, according to the CanWest News Service.
The study was based on a written survey of 607 13- to 19-year-olds at six unnamed high schools.
An investigator, Dr. Doug McGhee, medical director of a Victoria youth clinic, said there are two possible reasons for the increased risk posed to the 2.5 percent of students who identified themselves as gay or bisexual.
He told CanWest that the gay and bisexual students probably encountered drug use among greater numbers of their associates. McGhee also speculated that they might have “problems with early self-identification as gay or bisexual.”
The study was published in the March edition of the British Columbia Medical Journal. It showed that 13.6 percent of teenagers had reported using crystal meth, Ecstasy, ketamine or GHB. The students added that most of the use was only occasional or experimental. Only a handful reported using any drug daily or weekly.
Lead investigator Thomas Lampinen, an epidemiologist with the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said the study proves there is no crystal meth epidemic in high schools.
The conclusion is based on the confidential survey, conducted in 2003 when students in the six schools completed them in their career and personal-planning classes. But Lampinen told CanWest that the highly increased risk faced by gay and bisexual students was a big concern.
He and his co-investigators, McGhee and Dr. Ian Martin, a physician at Three Bridges Community Health Center in Vancouver, concluded that high school-based anti-drug initiatives may not be as vital in reaching regular drug-using teenagers. Instead, they suggested programs that focus on street youth and gay or bisexual teens, who are more likely to use the drugs on a regular basis. So-called “club drugs” got their name because of their popularity at raves and dance clubs.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s rate of HIV infection rose 17 percent last year with a record 183 people diagnosed with the sickness — half of them as a result of gay sex, an AIDS research group said Tuesday.
The figure, the highest total since records began in 1985, was up 26 on 2004 when 157 cases were diagnosed, the AIDS Epidemiology Group at Otago University said.
Of the 183 new cases diagnosed, 89 were from homosexual sex [up 19 percent on 2004], and 73 [35 men and 38 women] were infected through heterosexual contact, the group said.
Six new sufferers were children diagnosed with HIV through mother-to-child transmission. The causes of the 15 remaining new cases were classified as “unknown.’’
Nationwide some 1,850 people have been diagnosed with HIV and up to another 900 are believed to be living with the disease but not yet diagnosed, AIDS Foundation spokesman Steve Attwood told The Associated Press.
AIDS Epidemiology Group Director Dr. Nigel Dickson said that New Zealand’s HIV prevalence rate among men was “about six per 100,000 males aged between 15 and 64’’ _ mid-range of a group of 12 developed nations ranging from Britain and Ireland to Belgium, Canada and Australia.
AIDS cases in the country of 4 million peaked at 70 confirmed cases in 1989. Some 623 people have died of AIDS since 1985.
Ministry of Health senior public health adviser Dr. Douglas Lush said New Zealand’s HIV prevalence “continues to remain among the lowest in the world despite the 17 percent rise.’’
Foundation executive director, Rachael Le Mesurier, said the group was concerned the primary reason for the increase in HIV was new diagnoses among gay men.
“In spite of an abundance of HIV prevention information in gay communities, it seems that an increasing number of men are choosing not to use condoms for ... sex every time,’’ she said.
Le Mesurier said the rise in HIV infection levels could follow lowered concerns because of the success of HIV treatments, the growth of internet dating which increased the opportunities men had for sex, and integration of the gay community into the “mainstream’’ _ making it harder to target HIV prevention messages.
Foundation chairman Hoani Lambert said the figures showed that no one in New Zealand could afford to be complacent about HIV.
With three out of four new cases occurring in the northern city of Auckland, the foundation had already embarked on specific campaigns in the nation’s biggest city, he said.