The continued epidemic of methamphetamine among gay/bi/msm

Methamphetamine is not a new drug, it was developed in 1919 in Japan and was widely used by all sides in World War II.  Later, the drug was prescribed for weight loss and as treatment for depression.  It wasn’t until 1970 that the US government made methamphetamine illegal which lead to the underground production and sale of the drug. In the 1990s, drug cartels began large scale manufacturing of methamphetamine while smaller labs in homes and vehicles began producing meth in rural cities across the country.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s meth became the most widely used drug among urban gay men and spread throughout gay culture.  Methamphetamine use among gay/bi and other MSM has been shown to be 20 times that of the general population (Oldenburg, Et Al, 2016) and it’s use has not decreased over the decades (Mimiaga, Et Al 2019). 

Meth is used by gay/bi/msm to party, promote confidence, and enhance sexual experiences.  Many gay men report that “chemsex” is far more enjoyable and that after experience sex while using meth, regular sex is less enjoyable. 

For people living with HIV, using methamphetamine can have disastrous consequences.  Meth users who are living with HIV tend to have higher viral loads and are at risk of not being in treatment.  Meth may also effect a person’s immune system which makes it easier for HIV to replicate.

In the early 2000s, there were large campaigns focused on raising awareness of and combating meth use among gay/bi/MSM across the country.  These efforts have largely faded away but the prevalence of methamphetamine use has remained a part of our community.

To learn more about methamphetamine use among gay/bi/MSM, particularly among Latinx gay/bi/MSM, register for our future webinar “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” an Achieving Together Conversation sponsored by the Texas HIV Syndicate and presented by Poderosos.

Achieving Together values community—in person and online. When you comment on Achieving Together please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.