A new study issued by the Annals of Internal Medicine linked a highly drug-resistant strain of the bacteria MRSA to gay men in San Francisco and Boston, The New York Times reported last week. The study and the news report unsurprisingly have become a new platform for many anti-gay organizations to spur anti-gay sentiment.
The study was grossly misinterpreted by the news media and anti-gay organizations who wish to peg the gay community for fostering another sinful “gay disease” that will pass to the general population.
The study found that gay men living in San Francisco’s Castro district were 13 times more likely to have the relatively new strain of bacteria than the general population of the city.
MRSA bacteria is spread by skin-to-skin contact, and it thrives in areas with a concentrated population, such as hospitals or gay ghettos. It isn’t surprising then that anyone who has sex with anyone living in a concentrated area would be able to easily transfer the bacteria. This new strain emerged around 2002, and is found in 38 states. It doesn’t have a sexual preference, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
MRSA staph infections, which cause painful skin lesions and can lead to more serious health concerns, have been on the rise in recent years and have been a major concern for health officials. There were 94,000 infections in 2005 that resulted in 19,000 deaths, according to the CDC. That’s more deaths than caused by AIDS-related illness. MRSA is most commonly spread in hospitals through patients and health-care workers. It is also common in athletes and people who share towels and locker rooms because of the increase in skin-to-skin contact.
Although the bacteria causes serious infection, health officials at Boynton Health Service have seen no cause for alarm, and even dismissed the idea of MRSA being a new “gay” sexually transmitted infection. Dave Golden, director of Public Health and Communication at Boynton, said the infection could be transmitted sexually, simply because sex involves touching – sometimes abrasive touching. However, he said there would be no reason gay sex should be singled out.
The news media, with alarmist headlines like Newsweek’s “Is Staph Strain a ‘Gay Disease?’ ” are doing nothing but causing hysterics and adding fuel to the anti-gay fire.