Staph Infection Spreading Among Gay Men

January 15, 2008 at 8:35 am 14 comments

Researchers are reporting that a drug resistant staph infection that is possibly passed through sexual contact is spreading among gay men in a number of urban areas including Los Angeles, New York Boston and San Francisco. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was once confined to hospital patients, but in the last decade has been seen increasingly outside of medical settings with a number of cases being reported among school children and injection drug users.

The new strain seems to have “spread rapidly” in gay populations in San Francisco and Boston, the researchers wrote, and “has the potential for rapid, nationwide dissemination” among gay men.

The study was based on a review of medical records from outpatient clinics in San Francisco and Boston and nine medical centers in San Francisco.

The Castro district in San Francisco has the highest number of gay residents in the country, according to the University of California, San Francisco. One in 588 residents is infected with the new multidrug-resistant MRSA strain, the study found. That compares with 1 in 3,800 people in San Francisco, according to statistical analyses based on ZIP codes.

MRSA is passed through skin to skin contact or from surfaces contaminated with the bacteria. Doctors are encouraging people to scrub with soap and water to prevent skin-to-skin transmission of the infection particularly after sexual activities.

The infection can cause unusually severe problems, including abscesses and skin ulcers. The bacteria can invade through the skin to produce necrotizing fasciitis, giving them the popular name of flesh-eating bacteria. They can also cause pneumonia, damage the heart and produce widespread infection through the blood.


Entry filed under: Health, LGBT, Men. Tags: , , , , .

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. piereth  |  January 15, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    From problems in British hospitals with MRSA spread, it appears it is resistant to alcohol hand scrub. Good old soap n water does a better job.

  • 2. Kevin  |  January 15, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Wow!! A man can get a deadly form of staph infection if he puts his genitals in another mans fecal ejection cavity?? Who would have thought….

  • 3. Michael Crawford  |  January 15, 2008 at 5:56 pm


    You don’t have to engage in anal sex in order to get MRSA. Simple skin-to-skin contact is all it takes.

    It is also important to point out that heterosexual people have anal sex too and more than you may realize.

  • 4. びっくり  |  January 15, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    The reply to Kevin’s comment implies that perhaps the title of the article is misleading. (Perhaps the editor can be blamed for choosing the headline, like the newspapers do it.)

    The spread is probably occurring in persons who engage in casual, promiscuous sex. When we have no idea who we are having sex with or what their history is, we run a very high risk.

    Perhaps you chose “among gay men” in the title, because casual and promiscuous behavior is widespread for that demographic.

    Monogamy and commitment have far-reaching benefits.

  • 5. Michael Crawford  |  January 15, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    MRSA can be spread by casual skin-to-skin contact that does not involve sex. It was seen over the last decade in hospitals and increasing in elementary schools. I am guessing that people who are hospitalized or kids in elementary schools are not having casual or promiscuous sex.

    I included gay men in the title because study and news article that I referenced are about the prevalence of MRSA among gay men in some urban areas.

    Some gay men are promiscuous and some are monogamous just as there are promiscuous heterosexuals and monogamous heterosexuals. So, don’t think this is about gay men in general being promiscuous.

  • 6. Gay Sex Panic and Staph Infections « Bloggernista  |  January 16, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    […] Sex Panic and Staph Infections Posted on January 16, 2008 by Michael Crawford Now that drug resistant staph infection has been found among gay men all of a sudden its big news with much wringing of hands and warnings about gay sex. Never mind […]

  • 7. dianarn  |  January 16, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    This is called CA-MRSA (Community Aquired Methicilling Resistant Staph. Aureus) and it’s horrible. This stuff is killing young people with normal and healthy immune systems. It makes some sort of enzyme that kills neutrophils. And it lives on surfaces like tables and objects for weeks. I don’t even think it’s the regular respiratory MRSA because that kind doesn’t live on surfaces.

    I think they’re going to use this and say “Oh, it’s the gay people’s fault. And now we’re all getting it.”

    I am so close to saying this bacteria is genetically engineered, just because it’s so aggressive as opposed to normal staph flora, even the antibiotic resistant kind.

  • 8. annoyed  |  January 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    This is so dumb, if the statistics show that this is the demographic in which this infection is being rapidly transmitted then that is just what it means. Stop being defensive and be smart. This is simply something that we need to watch out for and be careful of and pray for God’s protection. There is no way to know who touched, worn, sat or released bodily fluid somewhere where you have to be in contact with. I live by clorox wipes and constant had washing at work. all i can say is be safe and be prayful, and please stop be so darn defensive.

  • 9. Michael Crawford  |  January 21, 2008 at 10:55 pm


    If the statistics were accurate, then I wouldn’t be quite so annoyed with the media hysteria.

    MRSA began in hospitals because of the overuse of antibiotics and proliferated due to the lax testing efforts. It has been reported in elementary schools, on military bases, in gyms etc.

    So, you might be able to understand why gay men are pissed off that another disease that strikes Americans of all types is being blamed on us.

  • 10. Jack  |  February 13, 2008 at 4:23 am

    I don’t understand why people are making this issue about being politically correct. I think it’s a health warning that needs to be taking seriously. I contracted MRSA a little over a year ago. I can tell you it was one of the most agonizing experiences I have ever had and I was very close to being hospitalized. I had two abscesses on my right inner thigh which became infected and I had to be treated with intravenous antibiotics and I also had to have the abscesses drained. This was not a fun experience and was extremely painful.

    As a gay man who always practices safe sex, I was surprised and baffled as to how I contracted the infection. But as mentioned, it is very easy to contract and to spread. Although not isolated to the gay community, the rates of this infection among gay men in particular are much higher than among heterosexual men just as STDs and HIV are.

    Bottom line, be careful!

  • 11. Jim Pickett  |  February 13, 2008 at 5:42 am

    All the authorities on the matter agree – MRSA is NOT an STD, and “playing safe”, i.e wearing a condom, or not, has nothing to do with how MRSA is spread. Sure, because it can be passed from skin to skin contact, that includes during sex, but the majority of cases involve much more casual contact. Furthermore, MRSA is NOT more prevalent among gay men. The story/research out of CA only looked at the CASTRO – um, hello. The disease is much more prevalent in the general population and esp among athletes, the military. In my last check, most of the folks who fit these descriptions are in fact, heterosexual. But of course, being that MRSA is NOT an STD, there really has been not much of a reason to categorize the associated data by sexuality.

    Being careful consists of good hygiene for the most part.

    Please visit LifeLube for CLEAR more info on MRSA.

    We have posted on it 10 times and have facts sheets from CDC and the California Dept of Public Health, among other great info.

    None of this is about PC. It is about being INFORMED of what is true, what is not, what we know, and what we don’t.

  • 12. More on MRSA « Bloggernista  |  February 13, 2008 at 9:45 am

    […] amount of misinformation floating around about MRSA and gay men. One gay commenter to a previous post of mine on the subject repeated the false claim that MRSA is more prevalent among gay men than […]

  • 13. Marla  |  April 6, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    You will notice that Fresno, CA is the only city within the entire nation to react to the mrsa panic by increasing medical benefits for various departments, now working on ways to increase benefits for ALL city employees. They have a secret – spreading of deadly bacteria including pathogens from mrsa, behind felony altering of the city sewer and water systems, verified by witnesses and their own records. KNOWINGLY leaving a trail of illness, asthma, infections, amputation, death – refusing to even test the soil, as the risk analyst says, “Not my job.” But lying about the cause of DELIBERATE and INTENTIONAL exposure to infectious, disease-carrying raw sewage is?!? Followed by altered records to cover up the evidence?
    If anyone has contracted mrsa in Fresno, CA, there is enough evidence of fraud, blatant negligence and cover-up, which will surely result in massive lawsuits.

  • 14. Kevin  |  July 7, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Yes, I am well aware that not just gay men will stick thier penis in a hole that has no reason to be used in this manner. I am also very awre that this is not the only method that a person could contract this diease. That was the point of my sarcastic comment. Like it or not this sort of deviant behavior will spread this disease just as easily (or maybe easier) than the other methods of contraction. My point is that anal sex is not only a filthy nasty activity it could lead to getting a fatal or near fatal disease along with AIDS and god knows what else. Those who choose to engage in risky pleasures of this type are just asking for trouble as this article explains. I dont blame this disease on people who do engage in anal sex whether its male/male male/female participants. Wait I just thought of something…. If this continues a new species might come to be…. The butt-hole baby. Just say no to anal sex, the dirty brown valentine of love.


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