VERY IMPORTANT: The New York City Department of Health is urging all gay men in the city "regardless of HIV status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men through a Web site, digital application or at a bar or party," to get vaccinated against a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis, reports the New York Times.
Although the first recorded case of this "absolutely terrifying" meningitis outbreak was first noted in August 2010, authorities made their first public announcement only six months ago. The new strain kills "one out of three people instead of the [usual] one out of five." This strain is particularly lethal among those who are HIV positive because their immune systems are already compromised.
New York City health officials are growing increasingly worried that this strain of meningitis, which is an inflammation of the lining around the brain and the spinal cord, is so insidious that it could suddenly mushroom into a major outbreak, claiming many lives before anything can be done to stop it.
The department issued a warning this month recommending the standard meningitis vaccination for a particular subset of the population: "men, regardless of H.I.V. status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men through a Web site, digital application or at a bar or party."
There have been 22 cases, all among men, of the unique strain since 2010, 13 of them last year and 4 this year, [Dr. Jay Varma, the deputy commissioner for disease control] said. Seven of them have died. Twelve were H.I.V.-positive, a possible risk factor. Ten of the cases were in Brooklyn.
This is VERY important:
Many of men who are at risk may not identify themselves as either gay or bisexual, even though they are having sex with other men, health officials said. So it is hard to reach out to them through gay organizations, and it is hard to get them to come forward to be vaccinated.
There is a vaccine that is effective against the new strain. Find a clinic near you.