HIV/AIDS From Methamphetamine-Induced Sex: Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Abuse, Aids, Sexual Abuse, Drugs, Violence, Bullying, LGBT, Health

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/12

[Professor]
In his article, The End of AIDS, Neimark (2011) depicts the plight of a gay HIV victim along with glimpses of how the gay community remains vulnerable before AIDS. In the later part of the article the author narrates how latest gene therapy reengineered the victim’s CD4 cells (the most critical of the T cells that coordinate the body’s attack against AIDS) and assured him an almost normal life with periodic infusions. However, the essence of the article eventually drives the readers to see the issue of HIV/AIDS from the perspective of prevention is better than cure, which in turn prompts this study to explore the correlation between drug-induced sex and AIDS, as several research reports strongly suggest a strong correlation between methamphetamine (MA)-induced sex and AIDS (Ellis et al., 2003; Frosch et al., 1996; Meredith et al., 2005; Washton, 1989), along with survey findings of an alarming number of MA users (Agresti, 2011). Accordingly, this study reviews the extant literature on the relationship between MA-induced sex and HIV/AIDS, before reviewing the solutions prescribed by the experts.
Methamphetamine, popularly known as Meth or MA, is a drug with tremendous destructive potential. It came into being during the World War II (1940) and now it has emerged as the latest threat to the global population as the reports point at its increased use across the global population. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. found five million Americans as abusers of MA in 1996, and thereafter it recorded 12 million Americans as regular abusers MA in 2002, which is a 240% rise within a span of six years (Schwartz and Andsager, 2008). Another important point of concern is that the members of the gay communities have been found as the main victims of MA and sexually transmitted diseases acquired from MA-induced sex (Elliott, 2004).
In 2012, the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health (NSDUH) found 1.2 million Americans (0.4 % of the U.S. population) as abusers of MA in the past year, while 440,000 of them (0.2 % of the U.S. population) reported abusing it in the past month. Another grave concern is the fact that the average age of new MA abusers found in 2012 was 19.7 years. The 2012 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of adolescent drug use and attitudes found around 1% of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders as abusers of MA within the past year, where 8th graders were found consistent abusers of the same (NIDA, 2013).

What is MA

MA is a highly addictive central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that can be taken in various ways such as injection, snorting, smoking, or oral ingestion. Its immediate effects include increased levels of attention and activity, decreased appetite, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and hyperthermia. On the other hand, MA’s long-term effects include anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, violent behavior, impotency, and serious brain damage (Agresti, 2011; NIDA, 2013).
The camouflaging nature of MA works as a deadly trap to innocent individuals, as it initially works as a high-power aphrodisiac by releasing powerful brain chemicals such as dopamine and adrenaline in high volumes, which in turn increase the libido, stamina, and confidence at once, besides generating a sense of well-being and fearlessness. The combination of such chemicals eventually impair human judgment faculty, frees the individuals from any inhibitions, and influence them to look for uninhibited sex with anyone. Such an ecstatic experience creates a fatal attraction to MA abuse, which quickly converts the new abusers into MA addicts, who would not mind taking MA intravenously, abstaining from using condoms in sex, and selecting anyone for sex (Frontline, 2011).
However, the initial euphoria with MA gets replaced by acute withdrawal symptoms after a few days, which gradually increases MA intake and consequently, the victims start losing vitality of all organs and contract sexually transmitted diseases. Eventually they become impotent, which is known as crystal dick in the circle of MA abusers (Frontline, 2011).
MA releases three neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, where dopamine gets released in large amounts and causes an energizing euphoria, norepinephrine incerases wakefulness, focus, and blood pressure, and serotonin influences sleep and sensory perceptions, which play major roles in mood and sex. MA in its granular form looks like yellowish powder and in its crystal form looks like a rock candy (McVinney, 2010).
Figure 1: Crystal MA
[Source: Web]

Why MA-induced Sex is on the Rise

The researchers identify certain factors such as easy availability and promise of fulfilling sexual appetite to an unnatural degree as the main reasons behind the rise of MA-induced sex. According to McVinney (2010), the MA abusers’ perceived desirable effects of MA include high levels of energy, alertness, sexual desire, stamina, self-confidence, freedom from real world, etc. initially attract them and gradually convert them as addicts to it. In support of his argument, McVinney cites some of the gay abusers’ reflections on their MA experience, where they reported that MA provided tremendous increase in their sexual drive, besides prolonging sexual performance, increasing frequency of sexual encounters, and eliminating inhibition about homosexuality and sex with any HIV/AIDS victim.
The MA abusers become obsessed with sex and in the process exhibit compulsive sexual behavior, states McVinney (2010), while pointing to the fact that these abusers maintain such behavior even amid adverse consequences. He also cites the instances where the desperation among MA abusers regarding sexual activities becomes so heightened that a male MA abuser becomes keen in becoming a “bottom” (receptor of anal intercourse) even after reaching the “crystal dick” (impotent) condition. Alongside, they mostly indulge in “barebacking” (anal sex without condom). The analyses conducted by Nakamura et al.(2011) also showed that the relation between MA frequency and unprotected sex was significant when the users had more negative attitudes towards condoms.

How MA-induced Sex Spreads HIV/AIDS

According to the report of a 2008 survey, 47% of gay or bisexual population in Washington State became victims of HIV/AIDS due to their practices of injecting crystal MA and involving in random and rampant anal sex without condoms (www.crystalneon.org, 2008). This instance easily bears the testimony of how MA-induced sex is highly contributing to the increase of HIV/AIDS patients in recent times. The research findings of Marshall et al. (2011) found that MA abuse was associated with different sets of HIV risks and vulnerabilities.
The survey of NIDA (2013) also identified the above two reasons as the main drivers of HIV/AIDS. It observed that HIV and other infectious diseases are spread among MA abusers through repeated use or sharing of contaminated syringes and needles, while intoxicating effects of MA alters their judgment and inhibition, which eventually lead them to indulge in unprotected sex. Altogether MA abuse generates a culture of risky sexual behavior among its abusers regardless of their gender. For example, a bisexual MA abuser may infect both men and women who indulge in MA-induced sex. By virtue of some epidemiologic reports, NIDA identifies the above combination of injection practices and risky sexual behavior as the major problems among MA abusers than among other drug abusers, where the researched data have already established the strong relationship between MA-induced sex and the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men. For example, 60% of MA users reported that MA abuse increases all facets of their sex drive, such as fantasies, pleasure, performance, obsession, and unusual or risky sexual behaviors (Rawson et al., 2002; Washton, 1989).
Figure 2: How MA-induced Sex Spreads HIV/AIDS
[Source: Author]

Prescribed Solutions to Stay Away from MA-induced Sex

While certain medicines are available for treating some substance use disorders, there is no medicine available that can counteract the specific effects of MA, increase the period of abstinence from MA-abuse, or reduce the volume of MA intake. However, the researchers bank on behavioral therapies, such as contingency-management interventions and cognitive-behavioral therapy. In this regard, the Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR), an incentive-based contingency management intervention and Matrix Model, a comprehensive behavior treatment that runs through 16 weeks, have been found effective (NIDA, 2013). However, the overall state of affairs regarding MA-induced sex clearly shows that the old adage, prevention is better than cure, should be the guiding light for the policy-makers to prevent further inroad of this menace called MA.

References

Agresti, M. (2011). The rising concern of Meth addiction among young adults. Retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com/?The- Rising-Concern-of-Meth-Addiction-Among-Young- Adults&id=5847759.
Elliott, V.S. (2004). Methamphetamine use increasing. American Medical News, 47(28), 23- 24.
Ellis, R.J., Childers, M.E., Cherner, M., Lazzaretto, D., Letendre, S., Grant, I., & the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center Group. (2003). Increased Human Immunodeficiency Virus Loads in Active Methamphetamine Users Are Explained by Reduced Effectiveness of Antiretroviral Therapy. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 188, 1820-1826.
Frontline. (2011). How Meth destroys the body. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/body/
Frosch, D., Shoptaw, S., Huber, A., Rawson, R.A., and Ling, W. (1996). Sexual HIV risk among gay and bisexual male methamphetamine users. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 13, 483–486.
Marshall, B.D.L., Wood, E, Shoveller, J.A., Patterson, R.L., Montaner, J.S.G., & Kerr, T. (2011). Pathways to HIV risk and vulnerability among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered methamphetamine users: a multi-cohort gender-based analysis. BMC Public Health, 11(20), 1-10.
McVinney, D. (2010). Overview of crystal methamphetamine: Pharmacology, risk factors & harm reduction strategies. Retrieved from http://www.harmreduction.org/downloads/Crystal%20Meth%20AIDS%20Inst itute%20Training%20AI%20Feb07.ppt
Meredith, C.W., Jaffe, C., Ang-Lee, K., & Saxon, A.J. (2005). Implications of chronic methamphetamine use: A literature review. Harv Rev Psychiatry, 13, 141-154.
Nakamura, N., Mausbach, B., Ulibarri, M., Semple, S., & Patterson, T. (2011). Methamphetamine Use, Attitudes About Condoms, and Sexual Risk Behavior Among HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex with Men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 267- 272.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2013). Methamphetamine. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope- methamphetamine-abuse-in-united-states
Neimark, J. (2011). The end of AIDS. Discover. Retrieved from http://discovermagazine.com/2011/oct/11-the-end-of-aids
Peugh, J., & Belenko, S. (2001). Alcohol, drugs and sexual function: A review. J Psychoactive Drugs, 33, 223-232.
Rawson, R.A., Washton, A.M., Domier, C.P., & Reiber, C. (2002). Drugs and sexual effects: role of drug type and gender. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 2(2), 103-108.
Schwartz, J, & Andsager, J.L. (2008). Sexual Health and Stigma in Urban Newspaper Coverage of Methamphetamine. Am J Mens Health, 2(1), 57-67.
Washton, A.M. (1989). Cocaine Addiction: Treatment, recovery and relapse prevention. New York: Norton.
www.crystalneon.org. (2008). Meth and your body. Retrieved from http://projectneon.org/library/pdfs/methbody0608.pdf

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