To describe temporal trends in methamphetamine use among young injection drug users (IDU) in San Francisco.
Design and Methods
Secondary analysis of cross-sectional baseline data collected for a longitudinal study of young IDU from 1998 to 2004. Participants were 1445 young IDU (< 30 years old) who reported injection in the previous month, English-speaking, and recruited by street outreach methods. We examined trends for: lifetime (ever) and recent (30-day) methamphetamine use, including injected and non-injected, and by age group and sexual risk behaviour [men who have sex with men injecting drug users (MSM-IDU), male IDU (non-MSM) and female IDU].
In 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004 we interviewed 237, 276, 431, 310, 147 and 44 participants, respectively. Overall, median age was 22 years [interquartile range (IQR) 20 – 25], 30.3% were women and median duration of injecting was 4.4 years (IQR 2 – 7). Prevalence of methamphetamine use was high, with 50.1% reporting recent injection, but overall there were no temporal increases in reported ‘ever’ injected use. Recent methamphetamine injection (past 30 days) increased significantly, and peaked at 60% in 2003. MSM-IDU had higher methamphetamine injection ever (92.3%) and recently (59.5%) compared to heterosexual male (non-MSM) IDU (81.6% and 47.3%, respectively) and to female IDU (78.4% and 46.1%, respectively).
Despite reports of ubiquitous increases in methamphetamine use, there were no significant increases in 6 years in ever injecting methamphetamine overall among young IDU. MSM-IDU who reported the highest methamphetamine use overall reported some increases in recent injected use. The methamphetamine ‘epidemic’ was probably under way among young IDU earlier than other populations.
Keywords: injection drug use, methamphetamine, MSM-IDU, prevalence, trends, young injectors