Exactly 30 years after the virus that causes AIDS decimated the gay population in major cities, a new gay scourge has emerged.
New York health officials are warning gay men of a new strain of bacterial meningitis that is spread primarily through intimate contact with men who meet in bars, public restrooms and parks to engage in unsafe sex.
Health officials are calling the new strain of meningitis “absolutely terrifying.”
“Meningitis symptoms usually come on quickly, and the disease can be fatal if not treated right away,” Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in a press release.
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis includes severe headaches, high fever, a stiff neck, and a rash (a rash may not appear in some cases). If left untreated, the disease can cause brain damage, hearing loss and death. Symptoms usually begin about 10 days after initial exposure.
Half of the 22 cases of bacterial meningitis that have been identified in NYC so far were gay men who tested positive for HIV. There have been 17 cases diagnosed in just the past year. 7 of those cases have died. It took 3 years for the NY media and the health department to make this information known to the public — ironically in the same week that the U.S. Supreme court hears 2 same-sex marriage cases.
“Since August 2010, we’ve detected 12 cases of this very specific strain but what we’re most concerned about is that in the past four weeks there have been four cases and one of those cases has died,” Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Jay Varma, told CBS affiliate 1010 WINS.
All of the recent bacterial meningitis cases have involved HIV-positive gay men who have had close contact with nose or throat discharges from an infected person. The New York Health Department initially issued a warning about the bacterial meningitis for HIV-positive men, but have since changed that warning to apply to all gay men. There have been 17 cases of bacterial meningitis in New York since 2012 and 22 cases since 2010, seven of which were fatal.
This new strain is highly contagious. Public health officials in San Francisco health officials have issued a warning to gay men to get vaccinated against bacterial meningitis if they plan to travel to New York.
Meanwhile, this story is noticeably missing from local and national headlines — a troubling fact when you consider how the media has waged a personal agenda for gay marriage which affects less than 4% of the general public.
Instead of concerning themselves with the fact that HIV positive gay men are practicing unsafe sex, gay rights advocates are complaining bitterly about the health department unfairly targeting gay men with its press release.
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