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J Urban Health. 2005 Mar;82(1 Suppl 1):i62-70. Epub 2005 Feb 28.

Longitudinal patterns of methamphetamine, popper (amyl nitrite), and cocaine use and high-risk sexual behavior among a cohort of san francisco men who have sex with men.

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San Francisco Department of Public Health, HIV Research Branch, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102-6033, USA.


Most prior studies examining drug use among men who have sex with men (MSM) have been cross-sectional or retrospective and have not determined whether periods of increased drug use are associated with high-risk sexual behavior at the individual level. In this article, we describe patterns of use of methamphetamines, poppers, and sniffed cocaine and sexual risk behavior among 736 San Francisco MSM enrolled in the EXPLORE study and followed for up to 48 months. In longitudinal analysis, use of methamphetamines, poppers, and sniffed cocaine declined during follow-up. However, compared with older participants, younger participants were more likely to increase their drug use over time. Results of conditional logistic regression demonstrated that high-risk sexual behavior was more common during reporting periods characterized by increased methamphetamine, poppers, or sniffed cocaine use. This within-person analysis found that compared with periods of no drug use, periods of both light drug use (less than weekly use of drugs) and heavier drug use (at least weekly use of at least one drug) were significantly associated with increased risk of engaging in unprotected anal sex with an HIV-positive or unknown-status partner. These results suggest that even intermittent, recreational use of these drugs may lead to high-risk sexual behavior, and that, to reduce and prevent risks of HIV, no level of use of these drugs should be considered "safe." HIV prevention interventions should target MSM who report either light or heavy use of methamphetamines, poppers, and sniffed cocaine.

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