Getting A Grip On Meningitis Outbreak

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No need to get paranoid, folks! pic by Jason Scragz

LGBTI communities across the states – but especially in New York and California – continue to worry about the outbreak of meningococcal disease among gay men, despite earlier reassuring reports.

The advice for gay and bisexual men travelling to the US, especially if you’re intending to party with the locals, remains – get vaccinated. This is especially important for HIV+ men, who require two vaccine doses eight weeks apart.

The Village Voice has a good rundown of events, which you should read if you’re at all worried.

The disease, for reasons the health department can’t explain, has remained solely in the gay and bisexual community. “We don’t actually know why it’s only occurring in men who have sex with men,” says Dr. Jay Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control at the health department. . . . at a rate 20 times higher than the overall population and 40 times higher than men who aren’t gay or bisexual. It’s frightening. We’re fearful that if we don’t stop it, it’s going to get worse.”

Good news is that official have determined that the recent California case is not highly related to those in New York.

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center said they were “relieved that the L.A. County Department of Public Health has determined the most recent case of meningitis is unrelated to earlier cases among gay men in New York and Los Angeles and that there is not a meningitis outbreak among gay/bi men here.”

The other good news is that free vaccinations by community groups and health departments are making significant inroads, with loads of guys getting their shots. Make sure you do too.

Dr George Forgan-Smith aka The Healthy Bear has a list of vaccinations all gay men should consider.

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)