Are 40% of gay men in San Francisco speed users?

That is the incredible claim being made in a pamphlet paid for and distributed by the SF Department of Public Health, "A Few Things To Know About Speed" which I stumbled upon at a health clinic today. The pamphlet's author is listed as Aaron J. Cohen (no bio information is provided), and the information on the bottom of the cover, which bears the SF city seal logo, says it is "Adapted from Bay Area Reporter, 9/4/2003."

  The specific claim comes in the fifth paragraph or so:

"In this culture of youth and vanity, we are constantly bombarded with media that directly associates our self-worth with how good we look. Arguably, gay men, more than any other group, face the greatest amount of this pressure. Toward that end, we work out constantly, eliminate any extra dietary fat, eat overpriced organic produce and shun preservatives and additives. Ironically, many of us (40% of gay men in San Francisco) think nothing of inhaling or injecting hydrochloric and battery acids, drain cleaner, lye and antifreeze into our bodies. As many of you may already know, these are the compounds commonly used to make methamphetamine."

  Ironically, especially given such obvious bits of opinion as the claim that organic produce is "overpriced", the brochure's first paragraph states, "This brochure is all about facts -- facts about methamphetamine use. What you do with them is your decision. It is all about weighing your priorities."

  I don't know about you, but I find it very difficult to believe the "fact" that 40% of gay men in SF use crystal meth. My experience does not indicate that meth use is anywhere near that rampant, and as a sex worker whose clients include many gay men in SF, I think I'm in somewhat of a position to know. Given the stigma attached to using "hard" drugs, and the fact that the government considers meth use a criminal offense, I'd say it borders on defamatory. I suspect the DPH is trying to inflate risk numbers in order to justify their funding.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

My more limited personal observation would lead to the same skepticism
as yours. On the other hand, I was involved in a study about 15 years
ago where we were surprised to find, in a sample of over 2500 gay men,
that 48% of them smoked (1992), compared with 29% in the general
population at that time.