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BMC Public Health. 2011 Jan 7;11:20. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-20.

Pathways to HIV risk and vulnerability among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered methamphetamine users: a multi-cohort gender-based analysis.

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British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, St, Paul's Hospital, 608-1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada.



Methamphetamine (MA) use continues to be a major public health concern in many urban settings. We sought to assess potential relationships between MA use and individual, social, and structural HIV vulnerabilities among sexual minority (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered) drug users.


Beginning in 2005 and ending in 2008, 2109 drug users were enrolled into one of three cohort studies in Vancouver, Canada. We analysed longitudinal data from all self-identified sexual minority participants (n = 248). Logistic regression using generalized estimating equations (GEE) was used to examine the independent correlates of MA use over time. All analyses were stratified by biological sex at birth.


At baseline, 104 (7.5%) males and 144 (20.4%) females reported sexual minority status, among whom 64 (62.1%) and 58 (40.3%) reported MA use in the past six months, respectively. Compared to heterosexual participants, sexual minority males (odds ratio [OR] = 3.74, p < 0.001) and females (OR = 1.80, p = 0.003) were more likely to report recent MA use. In multivariate analysis, MA use among sexual minority males was associated with younger age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.93 per year older, p = 0.011), Aboriginal ancestry (AOR = 2.59, p = 0.019), injection drug use (AOR = 3.98, p < 0.001), having a legal order or area restriction (i.e., "no-go zone") impact access to services or influence where drugs are used or purchased (AOR = 4.18, p = 0.008), unprotected intercourse (AOR = 1.62, p = 0.048), and increased depressive symptoms (AOR = 1.67, p = 0.044). Among females, MA use was associated with injection drug use (AOR = 2.49, p = 0.002), Downtown South residency (i.e., an area known for drug use) (AOR = 1.60, p = 0.047), and unprotected intercourse with sex trade clients (AOR = 2.62, p = 0.027).


Methamphetamine use was more prevalent among sexual minority males and females and was associated with different sets of HIV risks and vulnerabilities. Our findings suggest that interventions addressing MA-related harms may need to be informed by more nuanced understandings of the intersection between drug use patterns, social and structural HIV vulnerabilities, and gender/sexual identities. In particular, MA-focused prevention and treatment programs tailored to disenfranchised male and female sexual minority youth are recommended.

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