My partner and I are both positive and sometimes party with crystal meth. Can itdo additional harm?
Dear Pal, Let’s
be real: Crystal methamphetamine is an attractive drug. It offers
seemingly limitless energy, makes you feel more attractive and turbo
charges sexual pleasure. It can invigorate a couple’s sex life. But,
even for recreational users, the drug can become an addiction. Whether
smoked, snorted, injected or inserted anally, meth can fuel sexual
risk-taking, like unprotected sex with multiple partners, and other
behaviors by which you could transmit or receive the virus.
positive men and women, using meth recreationally or regularly can
further compromise the immune system—especially for those who don’t
sleep, eat, exercise and take meds properly. In my own study of 300
positive gay men on meds, those on meth were less likely to take them.
Meth’s psychological high affects the brain’s levels of dopamine, which regulates feelings of pleasure.
Indeed, many people who’ve regularly used meth report decreased sexual enjoyment for as long as two years after quitting.
Dopamine neurons and receptors can even become permanently damaged—a condition associated with Parkinson’s disease.
can also make you more infectious, leaving you and your partner
vulnerable to swapping HIV strains (superinfection) or other STDs. If
your meth use is out of control, support is available. Many cities
offer Crystal Meth Anonymous groups, and most AIDS service
organizations can direct you to help. If you’re not ready to quit,
reduce risk by avoiding injection, which causes skin infections that
heighten transmission risk. You can take care of yourself even while
+ Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, is a professor at New York University and director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies.
Got a question for our sexpert? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.