i went to a support group for hiv positive people at a local hospital last night in an effort to be of some service. there were about 4 newly diagnosed people there along with about 10 people who had more time dealing with it all. the conversations were lively and the sharing seemed honest and was intense.
1 gay guy and 3 straight guys made up the mix of hivsters and a common theme was denial. the gay guy had been worried about being poz for a couple of years, but ended up in the hospital with pcp and was outed to his family with not only hiv but also his sexual orientation.
the straight guys mainly talked about how they couldn't deal with it so they just ignored it. one went to prison and the other 2 slipped into heavy substance use (maybe just further) and didn't deal for quite awhile. as i sat and listened to this room full of people, the second emerging theme was the use of substances- especially crystal. the prison sentence was meth-related and his hiv status was meth related. several of the others shared that they had been using crystal but had stopped sometime later.
i'm really not sure if a dent has been made into this crystal/hiv epidemic. i sat there last night and felt as if i had been teleported back into the rooms i was in 7 or 8 years ago. one change is that it is no longer a new story. it's a song that has been played over and over until it is hard to distinguish it any longer. unless you happen to be like the 10 or so individuals in that room last evening and personally affected by the intersection of the 2 plagues.
if you are doing crystal meth and experience difficulty stopping or moderating your use, i encourage you to talk to someone around you. there are counselors and hotlines all over the country that will listen. a good place to start for any tweaker is the tweaker project.