Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Gay" Fenway Health Clinic Downplaying New Staph Outbreak

Left: "Dr. Cox" -- the answer man at Fenway Community Health Clinic in Boston. Note the link with the Boston Public Health Commission. On Dr. Cox's page you'll see links to anonymous hook-up web sites.

The CEO of Fenway Community Health in Boston (a GLBT clinic), Dr. Stephen Boswell (below), is trying to downplay the news of the new, virulent strain of staph infections proliferating in the homosexual community. But he is concerned that there is no "safe-sex" advice applicable to this new bacteria, which can be spread by casual contact.

That fact concerned one of the authors of the original report: "We are nowhere near the peak," Diep [head researcher at S.F. General Hospital] said. "The peak greatly will occur when it spreads into the general population."

InNews Weekly reported on Jan. 17, "Study finds increasing number of drug-resistant skin bacteria in Boston's gay community," with the qualifying headline, "FENWAY COMMUNITY HEALTH SAYS NEWS OF PROLIFERATING 'FLESH EATING DISEASE' IS INFLATED."

No mention that "men who have sex with men" show a 13 times higher likelihood of contracting the disease than others ... just that it "appears to be more commonly transmitted" in this group. From InNews Weekly:

A multi-drug-resistant strain of the S. aureus bacteria - or a relatively new strain of an old staph infection - isolated in Boston and San Francisco, and its causal bacteria, which most commonly presents as a large boil, appears to be more commonly transmitted sexually among men who have sex with men than others, reports the Annals of Internal Medicine.

However, reports that the bacteria - although life threatening if not treated - is a "flesh eater" and spreads rapidly, have been inflated, said Dr. Stephen Boswell of Fenway Community Health.
"The truth is, we are only seeing one or two cases a week, but that is an increase [over past years]," said Boswell this week in an interview. He added that a story in last Monday's The New York Times ("New Bacteria Strain Is Striking Gay Men") was "a bit dramatic." ...

"What we are seeing is an old bacterium that has become resistant to a number of antibiotics, and that could be because we use a lot of antibiotics. After a while, bacteria in your body becomes used
to the treatments and they no longer work," said Boswell, who wouldn't say whether gay men are more susceptible to antibiotic failure as a result of being treated for a constellation of STDs more frequently than other populations. "Infectious diseases tend to affect certain groups of people, and we're not exactly sure why this one is affecting predominantly gay men. It is being seen in other groups as well, just more frequently in gay men." ...

But, says Boswell, if it is transmitted from skin to skin, it's difficult to offer any safe-sex advice....

[emphasis added]