Gay Sex Panic and Drug Resistant Staph

January 16, 2008 at 12:07 pm 4 comments

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 that there is nothing inherently “gay” about the ways that MRSA is spread. But, why let that get in the way of “good” story involving gay men, sex and disease?

Journalist Sean Bugg makes a great point about the panic (?) over drug resistant staph infections and the finger pointing at gay men.

What’s interesting is that 19,000 Americans died in 2005 from MSRA infections, mostly in hospitals, but it’s when someone suspects it’s spread through gay sex that the warnings go out. But I get really pissed when I read quotes like this from the doctor who led the study, Binh Diep: “Once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable.”

Um, sorry to point this out, but when 19,000 people are dying, mostly in hospitals, from staph infections and 95,000 cases of infection are showing up annually, it’s already in the general population. It’s not a question of gay men having sex or physical contact — it’s a question of the rampant misuse and over-prescription of antibiotics. But instead of facing up to those facts, what we’ll have is another rash of stories like 2003, where local television stations send camera crews to gyms and talk ominously about the sexual behavior of gay men.

As expected, Matt Barber, one of the men behind Concerned Women of America, quickly jumped on the “blame The Gays” bandwagon.

The human body is quite callous in how it handles mistreatment and the perversion of its natural functions. When two men mimic the act of heterosexual intercourse with one another, they create an environment, a biological counterfeit, wherein disease can thrive. Unnatural behaviors beget natural consequences.

In a swift response Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, smacked him down.

We’ve come to expect hysteria and gross distortions from an organization like this and normally their bigoted rants don’t even warrant a response. But the statement today about MRSA is beyond the pale. In typical fashion, they disregard the facts and instead chose to demagogue the issue in order to fear-monger. Serious medical issues deserve serious consideration, not wildly off-the-mark press releases from anti-gay groups trying to capture media attention. We saw this kind of hysteria in the early 1980’s around HIV/AIDS, I’ll be damned if we will sit idly by in 2008 and let them perpetrate that type of anti-gay hysteria without calling them out on it.

Yes, MRSA is spreading among gay men, but it is also spreading among heterosexuals and likely from both sexual and non-sexual activities. MRSA is spread by skin-to-skin contact and by touching contaminated surfaces. And no matter what kind of sex you are having and what gender/s you are having it with, it is pretty hard to have sex without some skin-to-skin contact.

There is a clear need for more study to find out what populations are most at risk, what are the social factors involved in the spreading of the infection and what are will be the most effective educational messages to stop the spread of the disease.

Washing with soap and water is an effective method for preventing infection.

The authors of the MRSA article in the Annals of Internal Medicine admit that their study has limitations among them that

The data were passively reported or retrospectively collected and are therefore subject to bias.

Health officials must do a better job of figuring out who is most at risk and why and informing the public about the way MRSA is spread and how to prevent it without demonizing gay sex.

The mainstream media must do a better job of asking questions and reporting facts without participating in anti-gay hysteria.

And gay men must engage in a honest discussion about how our community’s social practices may contribute to the spread of MRSA among gay men and how we can better protect ourselves and each other from becoming infected.

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

Mike Huckabee Wants to Rewrite Constitution for God Still Not Celebrating Jenna Bush’s Marriage

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jim Pickett  |  January 17, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Thanks for this post. Important to have some perspective!

    LifeLube posted the following item yesterday that helps to clarify, and calm…

    Shock horror, superbug fears greatly exaggerated

    http://lifelube.blogspot.com/2008/01/shock-horror-superbug-fears-greatly.html

    Reply
  • 2. Michael Crawford  |  January 17, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Thanks Jim! And thanks for the additional info.

    Reply
  • […] The Center for Disease Control released a statement to shed some light on the recent story about drug resistant staph infections among gay men that has anti-gay activists in full fledged gay sex panic […]

    Reply
  • 4. Spencer Jones  |  August 6, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Actually, acquiring MRSA through sexual contact is easier than previously thought, both for heterosexuals and gays alike.

    According to USA Today newspaper, “A virulent, drug-resistant form of staph bacteria that has spread across the USA since it was identified in 2000 can be spread by sexual activity, a mode of transmission that is ‘important and previously unrecognized,’ a new study says…Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center, reporting in the Feb. 1 issue of Clinical Infections Diseases, identified three cases in which the bacterial known as community-associated MRSA passed between sexual partners.”

    The newspaper article went on to say, “The spread of MRSA through sexual activity has been seen by emergency room doctors, says James Roberts of Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia. In a letter published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine in January, he reported treating a lap dancer for MRSA infections on her buttocks. ‘She relayed that other lap dancers at her club had similar problems, considered a known occupational hazard by the women,’ he wrote.”

    Fortunately, four recent medical studies have demonstrated that an inexpensive and completely natural substance called colloidal silver literally decimates MRSA infections. You can read a very interesting report that summarizes all four studies at http://www.ColloidalSilverCuresMRSA.com

    Reply

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