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New HIV Strain Shakes Up New York Gay Community
 
 
  Reuters (02.17.05)::Larry Fine
 
The news that a New York man who used crystal methamphetamine has a drug-resistant and fast-progressing strain of HIV has alarmed the gay community. AIDS experts have warned of the potential for disaster among gays who use the stimulant to fuel marathon sex parties.
 
The possible new strain is still being analyzed, but reports of it shattered the complacency brought on by the treatment advances that have forestalled AIDS in many HIV-infected people in the past 10 years. "It's a poignant reminder that HIV disease is still with us," said Dr. Jack Dehovitz, director of the HIV Center at the University Hospital of Brooklyn.
 
"Politically this is a shot in the arm we needed to get the message out that the meth epidemic in the gay community was on an inevitable course risking the spread of disease," said Peter Staley, a founder of ACT-UP.
 
Community groups are brainstorming on ways to reach gay meth users. "God, let's hope there's another way to deal with prevention fatigue than the loss of thousands of lives," said Patrick McGovern, head of Harlem United Community AIDS Center. McGovern is working with Dr. Barbara Warren of the lesbian and gay center in Greenwich Village to plan community forums discussing the danger.
 
"There is a generational divide here," asserted Staley. "In the '80s all of us started wearing condoms. The reason was we saw our friends dying all around us. Now we have a generation that don't associate HIV with death."
 
Staley continued, "What we really need to do in the gay community is to have a conversation among ourselves whether we want this in our community or not. Social pressure will determine whether this drug will stay popular or not."
 

 
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