Methamphetamine use and sexual risk behaviour in Cape Town South Africa: A review of data from 8 studies conducted between 2004 and 2007

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African Journal of Psychiatry

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University of Cape Town

Community studies and studies of admissions to drug treatment centers indicate a dramatic increase in the prevalence of methamphetamine use in Cape Town since 2003. There has also been a substantial increase over this time period in the prevalence of HIV infection among women attending public antenatal clinics in the Western Cape province. This study aimed to review research conducted in Cape Town on the link between methamphetamine use and sexual risk behaviour. Method:A review of published research conducted in Cape Town between 2004 and 2007 was undertaken using PubMed, EBSCOhost and Science Direct. Results:Eight studies were identified, both quantitative and qualitative, and focusing on diverse populations, such as learners in school, out of school youth, adults in the community, men who have sex with men and sex workers. The total sample across the studies was 8153. Across multiple studies methamphetamine was fairly consistently associated with early vaginal sex, condom use during sex, having casual sex and other HIV risk behaviours. For some sub-groups the direction of the relationship was in an unexpected direction. Conclusion: The consistency of the findings across studies highlights the increased risk for contracting HIV among methamphetamine users, and reinforces the importance of interventions addressing both methamphetamine use and unsafe sexual behaviour among young people and other sectors of the population. The need for further research is also considered, particularly research that will explain some of the racial differences that were found.