So asks EDGE Boston in an online article this week:

Is Crystal Uncool? Gay Men?s Love Affair With Tina May Be O-Vah
by Scott Stiffler
EDGE Contributor
Tuesday Feb 17, 2009

Stiffler asks the following questions:

But how much is tina use ebbing among the affluent gay men who were at the forefront of the epidemic--and, not incidentally, have been at the forefront of efforts to stop its rampant use? Anecdotal evidence points to programs that began with activist Peter Staley?s bus and telephone-kiosk ads in New York City?s Chelsea and Hell?s Kitchen neighborhoods as making tina uncool (or at least less cool). But how effective have they been?

Good questions. I actually have no idea what the answers are, and am interested in what others think, so post your thoughts below.

Why am I clueless on this? Stiffler nails it by pointing out that “A lack of reliable data has complicated any tracking of what is generally acknowledged as an epidemic.”

I’ve got only one quibble with his article. Stiffler states:

There is a general consensus among those working with gay men that harm reduction, not abstinence, is a far more effective technique. “Harm reduction” is a controversial umbrella term for programs that don?t tell the user to quit entirely. Instead, they encourage cutting back or limiting to certain times or experiences and not using at other times; or at least using less.

Actually, there’s no consensus on this, either way. I’m actually for both. Any strong communal response most offer both abstinence and harm reduction programs and messages. I still don’t see the conflict in attempting to reset social norms in the gay community by honestly condemning what meth is doing to us, while offering both harm reduction and abstinence programs to those seeking help. Call it the New York City approach.

I do worry about cities where harm reductionists have completely suppressed any and all social marketing campaigns that tell the truth about how destructive meth can be (call it the Seattle approach). If no one is allowed to say crystal is uncool, will we ultimately reduce its harm?