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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Crystal Meth Money Awarded from City
Matthew S. Bajko
October 29, 2003
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco) (10.23.03) - Wednesday,

On Oct. 21, San Francisco's health department announced a $425,000 allocation to help prevent and treat crystal methamphetamine addiction in the gay community. The funding - an increase from the $300,000 originally allocated for the problem - will help eliminate clinic waiting lists for speed users and develop new adolescent and young adult HIV and substance abuse services.

"These initiatives result from my City Services Committee hearings that underscored the epidemic of crystal meth and the need for specific services to prevent adolescents and young adults from becoming hooked on crystal and seroconverting because of high-risk behavior," said committee chair and city Supervisor Bevan Dufty. "We need quick intervention when young people arrive in the Castro without resources. Otherwise, these young people become dependent upon meth, the sex trade, and enter a cycle of homelessness that's tough to break," said Dufty.

The city's AIDS Office is awarding $75,000 to New Leaf: Services for Our Community and $100,000 to the Stonewall Project to help reduce their waiting lists.

"The biggest increase in the last several years is the number of men coming in with crystal meth problems," said New Leaf Executive Director Joseph Neisen, who reported that most clients get in after little more than a week's wait. Six staffers, all but one full-time, work on substance abuse cases. Each handles about 20 active clients.

At Stonewall, where 45 clients are on a waiting list, the extra money will be used to increase staff. Currently, four counselors work part-time, and 50 men are in the program. The bulk of the money will go to hiring staff to reduce the wait for services, said Executive Director Michael Siever.

The city director of HIV prevention, Steven Tierney, will oversee a $250,000 allocation to community organizations skilled in working with groups ages 13-17 and 18-24 who face HIV risk and substance abuse. One potential agency is Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, whose executive director, Barbara Farrell, met with Dufty and Tierney last week to discuss her agency's assistance.