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Monday, January 14, 2008

MRSA and the Gay Vector

According to a recent University of California, San Francisco led study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a highly drug-resistant strain of staph infection related to the MRSA bacteria is spreading among gay men in San Francisco and Boston. In recent years, the MRSA bacteria has become an important public health concern, particularly in hospitals, which until now were the primary sources of infection. Now, it appears that the bacteria is being transmitted sexually through skin-to-skin contact.

While not discounting the importance of the study and the real concern it poses for the health of gay men, the media reports are strangely eerie of early HIV reporting. As in this quote by Dr. Binh Diep, PhD, a scientist at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center - "The potential widespread dissemination of multi-resistant forms of USA300 into the general population is alarming."

Hum. I think it's alarming that gay men are coming down with MRSA. And I thought that in 2008, gay men were now part of the "general population." If not, who else isn't part of the general population? Women? Farmers? Medical researchers?

The take home public health message from the story is that the bacteria may be more easily transmitted through sexual activity than non-sexual skin-on-skin contact. This implies that all sexually active people and their health providers should be on the look-up for signs of infection. Let's leave the gay men infection vector language in the history books.


  • I share your concern about isolating gay men, but as a medical student I also understand, to a limited degree, how the world of medicine work. In concerns of epidemiology if a particular segment of society appears to be affected by a disease finding the source, how it is being transfered, and determining the best way to treat it speaking of different 'groups' can be appropriate. I hope that responsible journalist will present the information correctly, but it is also wrong to ask science not to mention if a particularly segment of the population is affected. (I hope I have not offended anyone)

    By Blogger LaMont Moss, at Sat Feb 02, 09:45:00 AM PST  

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