New York isn't the only city battling the crystal-HIV connection

MIAMI A study last year found that a whopping 15 percent of South Beach’s young gay men had HIV. Kevin Garrity, head of South Beach AIDS Project, reports, “I’m sitting on ground zero of the meth epidemic, and I’m frustrated by the lack of funding.” The health department offers no HIV-prevention funds for a crystal initiative and likely won’t until Miami shows hard data linking the drug to new infections. PROGRESS: The city’s United Foundation for AIDS kicked off its meth = death poster campaign (right) last summer and donated 2,000 posters to New York City prevention groups.

SEATTLE HIV diagnoses jumped 40 percent from 2001 to 2002 among gay guys testing at public clinics throughout Seattle, which has a big crystal-injecting gay population. Like other West Coast towns, Seattle has “been aware [of] a problem [with gay men and crystal meth] for a decade,” says Bob Wood, MD, director of its HIVAIDS Control Program. PROGRESS: The city’s health department has promised $475,000 over the next two years to the Seattle Counseling Service for Sexual Minorities, which offers harm reduction and recovery services.

SAN FRANCISCO For gay men here, crystal is a top HIV risk factor; however, new infections in gay men testing at public clinics have dipped from their 1999 peak, perhaps due to the “prevention for positives” mega-campaign the city launched in 2000. PROGRESS: Health-department HIV-prevention head Steve Tierney says that besides doling out $425,000 for crystal-addiction therapy, the city has a small hotel for HIV-vulnerable gay street youth who often “sell themselves to buy crystal.”