Methamphetamine Addiction and Barriers to Access Treatment Among Latino Gay Men in the U.S

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METHAMPHETAMINE ADDICTION AND BARRIERS TO ACCESSING TREATMENT AMONG LATINO GAY MEN IN THE UNITED STATES.

INTRODUCTION
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that exists in many different forms and can either be smoked, snorted, injected or ingested orally. It is often referred to as Meth, Ice, Crystal and it is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that readily dissolves in water or alcohol. Its effects are weakness, increase in heart rate, causes irregular heartbeat, increase in blood pressure as well as body temperature, violent behavior, insomnia, anxiety, confusion and risk for infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. MA has been classified as a schedule II drug in the U.S under the federal regulations as a result of the rates of abuse and is only available through prescription (NIDA, 2006). It is the second most widely used illicit drug among men who have sex with men in the U.S. A probability sampling report in the U.S indicates that about 13% of Adult men who have sex with men (MSM) used meth within the last 6 months (Shoptaw & Reback, 2007). The literature on drug-using gay men has documented a strong relationship between methamphetamine (MA) use and high-risk sexual practices. Of particular concern is that MA use is associated with powerful sexual effects that may facilitate the transmission of HIV. As a group, Latino gay men show high risk for HIV infection, and such risk has been related to episodes of sex under the influence of drugs. However, little information exists about stimulant use among Latino gay men, and it is not known whether MA use in this population is similarly motivated by sexual effects. Latino gay men use stimulants for reasons that are important in their social, emotional, work, and sexual lives. Like non-Latino Whites, Latino gay men have been shown to rely on MA for reasons related to sexual enhancement, possibly to meet cultural expectations and norms of sexual prowess and sexual success in the gay community. EDPIDEMIOLOGY

MA use has been known to be popular among the gay white community but recent studies have found that it is fast becoming a problem amongst Latino MSM. Even though the largest population of users is white, the percentage of users among the Latino MSM population has been reported to be almost as high as that among white MSM. A study shows that 19.5% of Latino MSM report lifetime use, and 14.5% reported use within a 3 month referent period (Fernandez, Jacobs, Warren, Jacob C, Sanchez , & Bowen , 2009). A study done in San Francisco by the Cesar Chavez Institute in California among 300 Latino gay men reports that MA was the most commonly used drug reported by men within the last 6 months. It was mostly or more frequent among 50% of the population studied. Based on reports from law enforcement officials, medical providers, substance abuse treatment clinicians, and recently abstinent users, methamphetamine use among Latino MSM has risen every year since the late 1990’s. Estimated amounts of about 10% to 20% of Latino MSM have used methamphetamine in the last year (Dew, 2007). Estimates of MA use within this population ranges from 7.4% to 10.4% to as high as 62% in a self-identified drug-using sample of LGB MSM (Halkitis PN, 2005). Studying 2000 randomly selected Latino MSM in San Francisco, Diaz reports that 15% of the 45% of men who reported using recreational drugs used MA. An earlier study done in Los Angeles reports an even higher prevalence of 17% among Latino gay men in Los Angeles (39% among drug-using men) (Díaz, 2004, p. 2). A BUMPS (Boys Using Multiple Party Substances) survey of meth users among drug-using/bisexual men showed that 19.8% were Latinos second to whites at 51.1%. Latinos were also reported to have the second highest proportion of MA users to non-users (62.9%) vs. whites (71.7%). The study also showed that 53.2% in the year prior to screening. Latino MSM ranked...
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