Update: Bumped, Will and I have been going at it for a few days. Read the comments…
In the UCSF study, researchers found that men in a clinic for HIV-positive patients who had a history of having sex with men were 13 times more likely than other HIV-positive patients to get a particular form of community-associated staph infection called MRSA USA300. But this does not mean that there is a new “gay” form of MRSA, the study’s authors say. USA300 has been around since 2002 and has appeared in at least 38 American states among heterosexual and homosexual patients. What is new is the rapid rate the bacteria spread among this particular population of gay men, studied between 2004-2006. Why these men are more vulnerable than the heterosexuals studied is still a question. Researchers stopped short of labeling USA300 a sexually transmitted disease, but they did note that the infections in the men they studied were commonly found on parts of the body where skin-to-skin contact occurs during sexual activity.
Gay men’s health advocates point out that MRSA can be spread through any kind of skin-to-skin contact, either sexual or nonsexual, without regard for sexual orientation. And they have been very critical of the media for its focus on the sexual aspects of the story. “It’s very unfortunate,” says GMHC’s Stackhouse. “It’s very stigmatizing, it’s alarmist, it’s homophobic and it’s just unnecessary.”
There you have it. Just because the disease can be transmitted by other forms of skin-to-skin contact, the fact that it is 13 times more likely to occur in those who engaged in homosexual relations than in those who didn’t means it’s homophobic to consider homosexual behaviour an increased risk for MRSA.