Chris Burrous, KTLA Anchor, Died Of Meth Overdose While On Grindr Hook-Up; GHB Found At Scene

Los Angeles coroners have determined that KTLA anchor Chris Burrous, who was found dead in a Glendale hotel room on December 27, 2018, died of “methamphetamine toxicity.”

The witness, with whom he was having chemsex with, said he put at least two meth “rocks” in his anus before passing out and becoming unresponsive. While the two men allegedly have hooked up at least four times before, they met up again that particular night on the gay hook up app Grindr.

Mr. Burrous, 43, was married to a woman and had a nine-year old daughter.

The coroner’s report said Burrous overdosed during ‘a sexual encounter at a Days Inn,’  the Los Angeles Times reported. 

A man called the Glendale Police Department at 1:14 p.m. to say that Burrous had passed out and possibly overdosed, according to the news release.

Attempts at CPR by both the man in the room and paramedics who arrived minutes later proved unsuccessful, and Burrous died at a hospital said The Sacramento Bee.

Hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease was also a factor in Burrous’ death, the Times reported.

Burrous was the host of Good Morning Sacramento for many years until beginning at KTLA in 2011.

“GHB was also found at the scene, although the report indicated it had been consumed by the other man and not Burrous,” reported Variety. “The other man was not charged with any crime.”

“The well-known news anchor had been a regular face on KTLA since 2011, co-anchoring the weekend edition of KTLA Morning News as well as serving as a correspondent for other KTLA telecasts. He was also known for his “Burrous Bites” segments on local restaurants,” reported Variety.

Watch Burrous goodby to Good Day Sacramento below.

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Rise In Meth Use Leads To Spike In Syphilis

Public health officials grappling with record-high syphilis rates around the nation have pinpointed what appears to be a major risk factor: drug use.

“Two major public health issues are colliding,” said Dr. Sarah Kidd, a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead author of a new report issued Thursday on the link between drugs and syphilis.

The report shows a large intersection between drug use and syphilis among women and heterosexual men. In those groups, reported use of methamphetamine, heroin and other injection drugs more than doubled from 2013 to 2017.

The data did not reveal the same increases in drug use among gay men with syphilis, the group with the highest rates of the disease.

Researchers said the results suggest that drug use — and the risky sexual behaviors associated with it — may be driving some of the increase in syphilis transmission among heterosexuals.

People who use drugs are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, which put them at higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases, experts said. The CDC also saw increases in syphilis among heterosexuals during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, and use of the drug was associated with higher syphilis transmission.

“The addiction takes over,” said Patricia Kissinger, an epidemiology professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

For example, people using drugs may avoid condoms, have multiple sex partners or exchange sex for drugs or money — all significant risk factors for sexually transmitted diseases, said Dr. Sara Kennedy, medical director of Planned Parenthood Northern California.

“I think it’s impossible to eradicate syphilis and congenital syphilis unless we are simultaneously addressing the meth-use and IV-use epidemic,” Kennedy said.

Syphilis rates are setting records nationally. They jumped by 73 percent overall and 156 percent for women from 2013 to 2017. The highest rates were reported in Nevada, California and Louisiana.

Syphilis — which had been nearly eradicated before its resurgence in recent years — is treatable with antibiotics, but if left untreated it can lead to organ damage and even death. Congenital syphilis, which occurs when a mother passes the disease to her unborn baby, can lead to premature birth and newborn deaths.

The study’s authors analyzed syphilis cases from 2013 to 2017 and determined which patients had also reported using drugs. They discovered methamphetamine was the biggest problem: More than one-third of women and one-quarter of heterosexual men with syphilis reported using methamphetamine within the previous year.

Substance use among both populations was highest in 13 Western states and lowest in the Northeast. In California, methamphetamine use by people with syphilis nearly doubled for women and heterosexual men from 2013 to 2017, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The intersecting epidemics of sexually transmitted infections and substance abuse make it harder to identify and treat people with syphilis because drug use makes people less likely to go to the doctor and to report their sexual partners, Kidd said.

Pregnant women also may be reluctant to seek prenatal care and get syphilis testing and treatment because of concerns their doctor will report the drug use.

To stem the transmission of syphilis, the CDC urges more collaboration between programs that address STDs and programs that treat substances abuse.

Drug use is an “incredibly huge contributing factor” to somebody getting an STD and transmitting it, said Jennifer Howell, sexual health program coordinator for the health district in Washoe County, Nev.

“Everybody needs to see that we are dealing with a lot of the same clients,” she said.

Fresno County has the highest rate of congenital syphilis in California. Its health department analyzed 25 cases of congenital syphilis in 2017 and determined that more than two-thirds of the mothers were using drugs, said Joe Prado, the county’s community health division manager.

The county has started offering STD testing for people entering inpatient drug treatment facilities, Prado said. “That’s our opportunity to get them screened,” he said.

Those who return for the results are offered incentives such as gift cards. The county also gives people in drug treatment a care package that contains condoms and education materials about sexually transmitted infections, Prado said.

The city of Long Beach sends a mobile clinic to drug treatment facilities, where it provides HIV testing, said Dr. Anissa Davis, the city’s health officer. She said Long Beach hopes to expand services to include screening for other sexually transmitted infections.

Although increased collaboration between drug treatment providers and STD clinics is essential, it’s not always easy because they traditionally have not worked together, said Kissinger of Tulane.

“The STI people are hyperfocused on STIs and the substance abuse people are focused on substance abuse,” she said. It is an “opportunity lost” if people in drug treatment aren’t screened for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections, she added.

Fighting the rising rates of syphilis will also require more resources, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA.

“The STD workforce has almost entirely disappeared,” he said. “While policies could be put in place that require syphilis testing, those policies also have to come with resources.”

By Anna Gorman: agorman@kff.org, @AnnaGorman

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Meth, GHB, and Sex Are At Heart Of Book Using a Harm Reduction Approach To Treating Addiction

The harm reduction book is meant to give plain advice for those that “party and play” to help prevent HIV.

Chemsex — or the use of GHB, methamphetamine or mephedrone in sexual settings in the queer and trans community — provides a means for many to experience intimacy that is otherwise hindered by shame and stigma. But chemsex encounters bear risks and potential harms, exacerbated by this stigma, which are most often addressed — if at all —with a focus on prevention.

That’s why two London sexual health professionals wrote Chemsex First Aid, a booklet that spells out “how to react when things go wrong in a chemsex session,” according to one of its authors, Ignacio Labayen de Inza. Along with co-author David Stuart—who also provides ChemSex support services in London and who first coined the term “chemsex” in the early 2000s — de Inza identified a need for Chemsex First Aid because many chemsex-related care providers knew “what to do to prevent problems, but there was practically nothing until now about what to do when things are already going wrong.”

The booklet takes the harm reduction approach of recognizing that queer men practice chemsex, and will continue to do so. Three in 10 HIV-positive UK men who have sex with men (MSM), for example, engage in chemsex activities. Many who engage in chemsex find it a means to cope with the conflicts queerness poses for “toxic masculinity” and some “religious or cultural attitudes,” says de Inza. “Getting high on the right drugs can seem a great ‘solution’ to these problems. Chems provide a great disinhibition from these issues.”

The guide has four sections, respectively addressing: GHB/GBL-related emergencies; methamphetamine- and mephedrone-related emergencies; other emergencies that occur in chemsex environments; and a summary of first aid situations.

Many of the interventions proposed for chemsex drugs are similar to those suggested for opioids. For example, the booklet advises bystanders to look for problematic breathing and “firmly squeez[e] their trapezius muscle,” when assessing whether someone has fallen into “G-sleep,” a state of unconsciousness that could lead to death—similar to “nodding” in a potential opioid overdose. Working at “a sexual health clinic that has thousands of gay men who engage in chemsex every month coming through its doors,” de Inza has seen “hundreds who overdose monthly” from chemsex drugs.

The guide also considers withdrawal, particularly from GHB/GBL, and the risks of intravenous drug use, such as intravenous infection, HIV infection or introducing a large amount of air into a vein.

But chemsex also features unique risks and harms. Consent during a meth/meph high can be problematic, because of the drugs’ tendency to null inhibitions and ability to calculate risk. Additionally, meth and meph carry the risk of drug-induced psychosis. The guidelines advise that both issues require active support, and a negotiation between an individual’s agency and the harms caused to themselves or others.

Other chemsex situations potentially requiring first aid interventions include “lodged objects” in the anus, HIV infection, priapism (long-lasting, painful erections), and allergic reactions to substances cut into drugs.  

For de Inza, Chemsex First Aid is a part of queer men’s “long history of activism… of sharing information and stories, and of looking out for each other.” The booklet joins a harm reduction ecosystem of both institutional resources and the “word-of-mouth amongst guys that engage in chemsex.” De Inza aimed “to highlight the best tips and advice for the most extreme of circumstances, the most potential[ly] fatal.”

“This was the inspiration behind this resource,” de Inza continues. “There are some seriously complicated judgement calls to be made in dangerous chemsexenvironments, that many health organizations struggle to get right. We had to create this resource for our communities.”

Check out the guide here. 

This article was originally published by Filter, a magazine covering drug use, drug policy and human rights. Follow Filter on Facebook or Twitter.

Written by By Sessi Kuwabara Blanchard

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