Methamphetamine users in northern Thailand: Changing demographics and risks for HIV and STD among treatment-seeking substance abusers

Chris Beyrer, M. H. Razak, J. Jittiwutikarn, V. Suriyanon, T. Vongchak, N. Srirak, S. Kawichai, S. Tovanabutra, K. Rungruengthanakit, P. Sawanpanyalert, T. Sripaipan, D. D. Celentano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Our objective was to determine sociodemographic, sexual and drug-use-related risk factors among methamphetamine (MA) users presenting for drug treatment in northern Thailand. Patients admitted for drug detoxification for MA and other drugs were studied cross-sectionally for risk factors associated with substance abuse and blood-borne and sexually transmitted pathogens. In all, 1865 (200 women) patients treated for MA, opiate, and mixed substance abuse between 1 February 1999 and 31 January 2000 completed all study procedures. Among 1865 participants, 750 (40.2%) were admitted for MA detoxification and 1115 (59.8%) for opiate (heroin, opium, or both) treatment. MA users were significantly younger, better educated, more likely to be Thai than highland ethnic minorities, and had significantly different sexual risks and sexually transmitted disease rates, including lower syphilis seropositivity and higher chlamydial prevalence, than persons admitted for opiate or mixed drug treatment. For those who reported MA use only, use by injection was rare and HIV infections significantly less common than among all other drug users. Thailand is undergoing an epidemic of MA use. These young users are a strikingly different population from opiate/heroin users in northern Thailand. MA users had higher rates of chlamydia infection than opiate users, reflecting their young age, and HIV rates in this population were lower than injecting drug users, but still elevated. MA use is a serious public health problem in Thailand and both improved prevention and treatment methodologies are urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-704
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of STD and AIDS
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Adolescents
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Injection drug use
  • Methamphetamine
  • Thailand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Methamphetamine users in northern Thailand: Changing demographics and risks for HIV and STD among treatment-seeking substance abusers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this