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Antibiotic Resistant Strain of MRSA Emerging in Gay Population

Health officials notice increases in San Francisco and Boston; said, “We think that it's spread through sexual activity.”
Antibiotic Resistant Strain of MRSA Emerging in Gay Population
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Jan 16, 2008 11:30 AM PST    Text size: 
SAN FRANCISCO — An antibiotic-resistant strain of staph infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is being transmitted in populations of gay men through sexual contact, a research study said on Monday.

The study, conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, saw significant increases in infection among the gay populations of San Francisco and Boston, with sexually active gay men in San Francisco 13 times more likely to be infected than the general population.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

MRSA, which appears on the skin as raised red dots very similar to a pimple, when left untreated, can result in serious abscesses that continue to spread unless medicated with intravenous antibiotics.

The bacteria are spread through skin contact with potentially deep tissue infection occurring when an abrasion or cut is exposed. It also can be transmitted from surface exposure to towels, gym equipment and other objects that come in contact with skin.

Without treatment, the bacteria can be potentially deadly especially to individuals with compromised immune systems. According to a report published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, 19,000 people died of MRSA in the U.S., in 2005.

"Once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable," researcher at the University of California, San Francisco Binh Diep said. "That's why we're trying to spread the message of prevention."

The best way to prevent infection, according to Diep, is to use soap and water to wash exposed areas, like hands or genitals.

Adult Industry Healthcare founder Sharon Mitchell told XBIZ that information about MRSA can be found on the organization’s website, and that the infection has had somewhat of an effect on the performing population since 2001.

“This MRSA problem is not new,” Mitchell said. “We have extensive information on it that’s up on our site. Catch it early, keep your hands off it and get in here — when it gets the size of a spider bite, it’s time to get in here. Anything that’s looking like a pimple that won’t go away, that’s hanging around for more than a week and starting to get darker and hard — keep your hands off it and come in here.”

According to Mitchell, the clinic sees an average of 15 cases of MRSA a month, but has not seen any increases in infections recently.

“We started seeing it in the gay population,” Mitchell said. “The gay guys that were coming in were getting it in the bathhouses because it’s one of the few antibiotic resistant strains that can live in hot water. Once that started happening, it started creeping into the straight industry.”

One adult producer that preferred to not be identified said he is taking extra on-set precautions including making sure multiple bottles of hand sanitizer are available on-set and also that talent showers thoroughly before and after the end of each scene and breaks. He is also requesting that talent not share towels or baby wipes.

On Tuesday, right-wing organization Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality blasted the gay population for what the group perceives as a health threat with origins in the gay community that could potentially threaten the general populace.

However, an estimated 30 percent of the entire population carries the bacteria for staph infection chronically and infections in hospital settings, nursing homes, among children and those with weakened immune systems are not uncommon.

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