As the AIDS crisis emerged in the early 1980’s, I had the helpful perspective of serving on a Congressional staff and being at the nation’s nerve center, so to speak, of Capitol Hill as America sought answers about the unfolding health emergency. I see eerie similarities to that disquieting time and the news account reported below, provided by Reuters News, via the Drudge Report, regarding a new “super bug” infection centered in the gay communities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Boston about which we know very little.
Back in the early 80s, Congress sought to understand and then respond to the AIDS crisis through many avenues. Initially, as projections were made about the possible scope of the emerging epidemic, the epidemiological models assumed that 10 percent of the population was in fact homosexual – gay or lesbian. This was based on the very flawed research of Indiana University sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey. I later went to the Kinsey Institute to review the infamous research, only to see that a prominent disclaimer has been added at the beginning recognizing the sampling mistakes that Dr. Kinsey made in reaching his conclusion that 10 percent of the nation's men are homosexual. But before these statistical sampling flaws were well understood, the nation, unfortunately, had a deadly epidemic underway confirming that the true percentage of gay men is three percent or less.
Congress also made other mistakes, including, chiefly, declaring AIDS the first disease in American history to have civil rights. I fear tens of thousands died because of that political correctness that prevailed, principally pursued by then Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Beverly Hills. If the news account below is accurate, more than 20,000 Americans have already died from this new "super bug."
This has an eerie similarity to the initial reports of AIDS. I hope and pray there is not another forthcoming 'super bug' disease anyone has to deal with, including gay men or lesbian women. As a Christian, my compassion goes out to anyone who is ill, and I wouldn’t wish a debilitating or deadly disease on my worst enemy. If we face a similar crisis, however, it is imperative that clear-headed medical science prevail as we respond to a sexually-transmitted disease, should that turn out to be the case. For those who might want to read the best analysis of the early days of the AIDs crisis, I recommend "Homosexuality and the Politics of AIDS" by Dr. Jeffery Satinover and "And The Band Played On" by now-deceased (of AIDS) San Fransisco Chronicle Reporter Gary Shilts. Both are excellent, penetrating reads of the failures in the medical community (Satinover) and the gay activist and community health worlds (Shilts).
Rueters news report as carried by the Drudge Report on Wednesday, Jan. 15
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A drug-resistant strain of potentially deadly bacteria has moved beyond the borders of U.S. hospitals and is being transmitted among gay men during sex, researchers said on Monday.
They said methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is beginning to appear outside hospitals in San Francisco, Boston, New York and Los Angeles.
Sexually active gay men in San Francisco are 13 times more likely to be infected than their heterosexual neighbors, the researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
"Once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable," said Binh Diep, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study. "That's why we're trying to spread the message of prevention."
According to chemical analyses, bacteria are spreading among the gay communities of San Francisco and Boston, the researchers said.
"We think that it's spread through sexual activity," Diep said.
This superbug can cause life-threatening and disfiguring infections and can often only be treated with expensive, intravenous antibiotics.
It killed about 19,000 Americans in 2005, most of them in hospitals, according to a report published in October in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
About 30 percent of all people carry ordinary staph chronically. It can be passed by touching other people or by depositing the bacteria on surfaces or objects.
The bacteria can cause deep-tissue infections if they enter the body through a wound in the skin.
Of those people who carry staph, most carry it in their noses but community-based MRSA also can live in and around the anus and is passed between sexual partners.
Incidence of MRSA is rising along with the resurgence of syphilis, rectal gonorrhea, and new HIV infections partly because of changes in beliefs about the severity of HIV and an increase in risky behaviors, such as illicit drug use and having sex that abrades the skin, Diep's team wrote.
"Your likelihood of contracting each of these diseases increases with the number of sexual partners that you have," Diep said. "The same can probably be said for MRSA."
Staph infections often look like raised red dots on the skin. Left untreated, the areas can swell and fill with pus.
The best way to avoid infection is by washing the hands or genitals with soap and water, Diep said.