Now Reading
London gay men warned crystal meth is causing HIV spike

London gay men warned crystal meth is causing HIV spike

London gay men are being warned crystal meth could be causing a huge HIV spike in the capital.

Doctors believe while there are a small number of users, methamphetamine is having a disproportionate effect on gay men.

Increasing numbers of gay and bisexual men in the capital are injecting it, sharing needles and combining it with other drugs and high-risk sexual activity. They say the increase in crystal meth is linked to a sharp rise in HIV diagnoses, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr Owen Boden Jones, who works at a specialist clinic at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, told Channel 4 News:

‘We’re seeing people who are using a hugely powerful drug, by injection, who have higher rates of HIV, and they’re engaging in high-risk sex.

‘In the context of sexual behaviors, this really is a public health nightmare.’

Home Office figures from 2012 showed 17,000 people aged 16-59 in England and Wales took crystal meth.

But a new report compiled by the London School of Hygiene 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 four times as many use crystal meth in the capital than across the rest of the country.

Antidote, a drug and alcohol project working with LGBT people in London, says crystal meth users who injected the drug rose from 30% in 2011 to 70% in 2012. Clinics say the number is increasing in other cities in the UK including Manchester and Leeds.

While some are suggesting that it is not a problem as it is certainly a very small number affected, there is still a disproportionate risk.

Others urged for caution as the data may also be reflecting greater awareness of the clinics specializing for a limited number of individuals.