Is MRSA the new HIV? Open Forum

Lots of buzz the last few days about an Annals of Internal Medicine article noting the increase in MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus) among gay men. MRSA is treatement resistent and is often referred to as a flesh eating bacteria since it can lead to necrotising fasciitis. The San Francisco Chronicle did a story about it that focused on the prevalence among gay men and especially the Castro district. Peter LaBarbera has sounded an alarm which attempts to elevate the issue to the level of HIV/AIDS.

Now I think MRSA is a serious issue and anything that can be done to prevent the spread is important news. Sexual activity is apparently one way to spread the bacteria and so it seems smart to choose wisely when it comes to sex. Whether gay or straight, this seems to be good advice. Broader warnings seem prudent such as offered by Annals of Internal Medicine commenter Arlen J Peterson regarding the article:

First, let me thank the dedication and development of understanding MRSA clone (USA300) from the medical community to the public. I work for a sexual health centre, which includes providing extensive education and treatment of STI’s to sexually active individuals. I understand the relation between how the community of men who have sex with men increases the risk of MRSA infection (risky behaviors, more sexual partners, drugs, etc), Annals article highlights the risk is associated with skin-to-skin contact primarily by unprotected anal intercourse. My concern is the community of men who have sex with men are the only population emphasized in the article when anal intercourse is practiced fluently in men who have sex with women. Men who have anal intercourse with women do so for reasons mainly of pleasure and a form of birth control, usually unprotected for the latter. So, if an average person were to read a synopsized version in the news based on this article, particularly the young, they might get a message of: ‘It’s a risk for men who have sex with men, I am not of this population, therefore I am not affected.’ Can this article emphasize that it is the unprotected anal intercourse causing the risk of MRSA infection and that is not limited to men who have sex with men? I appreciate it and thank you for your time.

This is a volatile issue as indicated by the 600 plus comments the San Francisco Chronicle received on the news report. I am interested in comment here on the topic of MRSA among sexually active people. Is there something inherent in homosexuality that leads to this spread (I know what I think but I am interested in rational comment)? Or is this a matter of sexual practice only and not sexual attractions?