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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
June 17, 2005

Forum makes an early strike at meth in Ohio

Columbus--Over 100 people attended a forum on crystal methamphetamine at the Arena Grand Theater on June 14, a preemptive strike against the drug that has ravaged gay communities in larger cities.

�The panel was extremely well-balanced and knowledgeable,� said Chris Hughes, the MSM HIV prevention coordinator for the Columbus AIDS Task Force, one of the community organizations that put together the event.

Crystal meth, also known as �tina,� is considered a scourge in the LGBT community, especially among gay and bisexual men, because its use lowers inhibitions, leading quite often to unsafe sexual practices. Since the drug also has anesthetic properties, men having receptive anal sex can damage tissues, opening an avenue for HIV infection.

According to Hughes, members of the panel included social service workers, concerned community members, and former and current drug users, representing not only Columbus, but also Akron, Dayton and Cleveland.

�It was a good starter to see where this epidemic is in our community,� he said.

While there have yet to be any hard figures released on the amount of meth use in Ohio LGBT communities, the city of Cleveland, in conjunction with the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, will be taking a survey this weekend at Cleveland Pride to determine the extent of the drug�s infiltration.

Stonewall Columbus, another of the organizations that presented the forum, is starting a support group for crystal meth users later this month called �Tina�s Caf�.� The first meeting will be on June 25.

According to Hughes, CATF also offers an outpatient treatment program, and Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon all provide services to meth users. Maryhaven and House of Hope also provide inpatient addiction care, although House of Hope only deals with men and specializes in alcohol dependency.


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