Research on drug use among gay and bisexual men has primarily focused on examining the link between drug use-most notably, methamphetamine-sexual practices, and risk of HIV transmission. Drawing on in-depth qualitative data from 40 interviews with gay and bisexual Asian American men, we examine perceptions and meanings associated with cocaine use in the San Francisco Bay Area gay community. We found that the participants, in contrast to their negative perceptions of methamphetamine use, believed that cocaine enhanced sociability and was acceptable for use in most social situations. Furthermore, participants perceived little connection between cocaine use and risky sexual practices, emphasizing the drug’s safety relative to other illicit substances. Based on these findings, we suggest that an increase in the favorability of cocaine use might be an unintended consequence of methamphetamine prevention campaigns targeting the gay community, with their emphasis on the harmful effects of drug use, unsafe sex, and HIV risk.
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