Crystal meth and HIV

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Post by Dr Fiona Bisshop10 Jun 2010

Crystal meth, also known as Tina, Ice and Meth, is basically a superstrong form of amphetamine (or speed). It can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected, and is usually sold as clear crystals, white powder or a pill.

Taking crystal makes the user feel hyperenergised, invulnerable, confident, very horny and less likely to feel pain. Crystal raises your blood pressure and your body temperature and can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Users can often go days without eating or sleeping, and coming down they can feel exhausted, aggressive and sometimes even paranoid. The come-down can be so hard that sometimes people resort to other drugs such as alcohol, Valium or even heroin.

It is a drug that is often used for energy for non-stop dancing or sex. However, it is harder to get a good erection on crystal, so users will often have to take Viagra at the same time so that they can fuck all night.

People who use crystal are more likely to take part in risky sexual behaviour, and more prolonged sexual encounters; to injure themselves during sex, which vastly increases the risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV or hep C. (Remember your condom is only likely to last a short time if you’re really going for it – put on a new one after 30 minutes of fucking.)

Levi: “All of a sudden I had uncomfortable and strange sensations and thoughts. I was convinced I had to go to a ‘secret rendezvous’ to meet someone ‘special’...someone out of the ordinary, a secret friend, a ‘healer’...and they knew I was coming, we were connected.

As I walked to find him, I felt the world was going back to its natural state, so I stripped all my clothes off. All I remember next was the ambulance taking me to hospital. I have no memory of what happened in between. I was hospitalised one week.

You don’t know what’s in meth – maybe I took too much, but you don’t know what is enough.
I’ve learnt I need to tread more carefully with the amount of gear I take.”

Combining crystal with some prescription drugs is dangerous – if you’re on an antidepressant you can get a life-threatening reaction from taking crystal. If you have HIV and you’re on a PI (protease inhibitor) you could accidentally OD on crystal. Not to mention the fact that it suppresses your immune system (which you really don’t need if you have HIV already).

It is highly addictive, and tolerance develops rapidly, which means you need more and more of the stuff to get the same effect. Long-term use can lead to serious mentalhealth problems such as psychosis.

Lastly, remember that, as with all street drugs, you never really know what you’re getting and how strong it is – plenty of people have come to serious harm or even death through assuming they know how to use a drug like this safely, only to find it’s a much stronger batch.

If you need more information, try these websites:

Dr Fiona Bisshop specialises in LGBT health at the Central Brunswick Medical Centre in Fortitude Valley, Queensland. This article first appeared in QNews in March 2010. 

Image and quote courtesy of Queensland Positive People (QPP)