New York Times covers the MRSA controversy: Open Forum

After the San Francisco Chronicle printed an article linking MRSA with homosexual zip codes in San Francisco and Boston, the Unversity professors behind the original study are in the New York Times clarifying the intent and meaning of their remarks. See this article and let’s continue the discussion…

69 thoughts on “New York Times covers the MRSA controversy: Open Forum”

  1. MRSA happens mostly in a hospital setting or institutional setting. It happens a lot in sports settings IE: Locker rooms, shared sweaty towels on the court, wrestling mats, and other kinds of public situations. And if you do have an open wound it is best to cover it before going in public (for your own sake really).

  2. I agree with jason on this one..If you are gay doesn’t mean you are infection infested person..sounds absurd and down right dumb..

  3. I completely agree with Jason. There are more ways to get staph than you can shake a stick at. Being aware of how transmission occurs and being careful is important. The pin it on the gays is an unfortunate diversion from more important issues.

  4. i am 100% healthy and got staph infection from a poorly cleaned portopotty. This whole thing is completely ridiculous, anyone can get it,at any time. This whole study sounds absurd. Did they ask the patients as they came in with the infection if they were GAY? What professional hospital does that without an underlying cause? what was their agenda? If they are asking every patient that comes in with something what their sexuality is, then its simply a matter of time until they uncover something linked more commonly to the gay community that can spread like fire to ignite prejudice and intolerance.

  5. Thanks Eddy – I appreciate you and your comments and agree with you about this topic. I am glad you brought your concern to the discussion. I know about this infection because of the hospital setting I volunteer at. We have an infectious disease person come in and talk with us once a year and then have to sign a form saying we understand and will comply with hand washing, gloves, etc. I understand the skin to skin contact and it seems that children are at particular risk as are hospitals and other medical settings. Regarding the sexual contact, I guess it is surely a possibility with anyone and should never be discounted as a source for contact. I didn’t know that anonymous sex precluded asking any questions about protection, etc. – now I do. When I think about it, I can understand that “discussions” probably would be a mood killer for two people who were in that setting to begin with. I know there have been major breakouts in jails but not sure what the source is – I am sure hygiene is a problem there. Because it is an external rather than internal infection, I am very careful to always put down a towel whenever I sit on a bench or go in the steam room at the gym. I will try to find Jim’s article and read it – I also agree with you about him.

  6. Ann–

    The bathhouse comment was actually a spin-off for everyone and I should’ve tagged it as such. My apologies.

    What I learned from Jim’s research is that we shouldn’t be focussing on sexual transmission. It appears to be a ‘skin to skin’ or ‘contaminated surface to skin’ condition. It has appeared in several sports team situations and even in some closed church communities where sex was obviously not the source of transmission.

    Were the sports teams sharing towels? Sitting naked on a bench that someone else just vacated? Wrestling sweaty and shirtless? Were the church members sharing utensils? At this point, we don’t know. What we do know is that ramping up our hygiene a bit seems to be effective. The impression I got was that it wasn’t the actual sexual intercourse that was spreading the disease but the flesh to flesh contact. And even that is only an impression. So, the focus on the bathhouse scene and explicit sex would deter from the message that this ailment is communicated through means that are far more commonplace.

    The notion of wearing protection (i.e. condoms) might not be effective if the real transmission is from parts of the skin that aren’t covered by a condom. And, while it’s a noble thought to suggest that people be honest about what diseases they might be harboring, there’s an old line that says “when it comes down to the possibility of sex, everyone declares they’re negative”. And this ailment is unlike AIDS in so many ways. It’s not deadly. The point of infection seems to be external rather than internal. And, surprisingly simple measures–like washing with soap and water after skin to skin contact–are effective in arresting the transmission. In some ways, it seems more similar to poison ivy than AIDS.

    My particular frustration with the bathhouse detour was that this is a blog of intelligent thinking people. I had hopes that we could think some of this through together. But, very early on in the thread, we seemed to detour to ‘anonymous sex’ as primary cause. Logic says that ‘primary cause’ gets ‘primary focus’. And, let’s face it, both sides seem to agree that anonymous sex is both tacky and unhealthy…yet it goes on. People that are engaging in anonymous sex really aren’t listening to health cautions. So, I felt (and feel) that focussing there was kind of pointless. We might have lots to say but nobody’s listening. It just seems more practical to focus on what kind of message we can get across to those in the mainstream who are listening.

    Your questions are good ones. I’ve always felt that they are honest and sincere. If you ever feel that I’m minimizing one, let me know…because it certainly isn’t my intent. I think I appreciate your presence here more than anyone else’s.

  7. Eddy,

    Not sure if the bathhouse comment was for me or everyone. I originally asked for an explanation of what one was. My comments in #82897 asked if any unprotected sex would even occur if there was honest disclosure up front about any type of infectious disease one had – regardless who one was going to have sex with or where it was going to occur. It seems to me that the disease is spread unknowingly in other situations but we can prevent it by not having sex with another if we knowingly have it. That made sense to me and I asked if I was wrong about that.

  8. Ann–

    It just occurred to me that you likely didn’t follow the link that Timothy provided to Box Turtle Bulletin in the first MRSA thread. I encourage you to do so. Jim Burroway used to be one of the top commenters here and dialogues with him were always cordial and respectful.

    I’ve been shopping around for more background info on MRSA and, unfortunately, everyone is currently caught up in this recent spin. Jim’s recent piece is thoughtful, articulate and pretty well rounded. I’m thinking it would answer the question you posed to Mike in 82914 better than a blog comment would. Jim’s research and communication skills are to be envied.

    This bathhouse detour is frustrating me to no end. NO real bathhouse connection has been established or even been suggested in the research. Sure, it’s one likely place where the virus could be spread but the role of the bathhouse is so minimal that it doesn’t bear all of this discussion. I sincerely hope we can move beyond it into some broader discussion. (The link is in a post by Timothy but is easy to find…just look for the blue word ‘link’.)

  9. But I believe it’s reasonable to hypothesize that those who are sexually active, pursue such activity through casual hookups in semi-public places where anonymous sex is easiest to find. Sad to say, sexually active ex-gay men will not be found at home with the hubby in front of the fireplace.


    You were speaking of individuals who identify themselves as ex-gay in the above statement. When you say “it is reasonable to hypothosize”, is that any different from what you accuse others of when you point out to them that they are “inventing myths” or “gossiping” when they use the same hypothosis about men who identify as gay and engage in the same dangerous and impulsive and selfish sexual activity?

  10. Mike,

    Is sexual contact the least likely way to get this infectious disease or are there any percentages that indicate how most people get it?

  11. No Ann, that is not “fair to say”.

    Because while that is possible – just as passing MRSA is possible in Sunday School – it isn’t relevant to the conversation and is only being presented in order to condemn.

    “It could happen so I’m going to pretend like it did” is not an ethical way in which to discuss MRSA.

  12. Since it’s the report and it’s possible implications that we’re talking about, I thought I’d quote from it:

    Spread of the USA300 clone among men who have sex with men is associated with high-risk behaviors, including use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, sex with multiple partners, participation in a group sex party, use of the internet for sexual contacts, skin-abrading sex, and history of sexually transmitted infections (41–43). The same patterns of increased sexual risk behaviors among men who have sex with men—which have resulted from changes in beliefs regarding HIV disease severity with the availability of potent antiretroviral therapy—have been driving resurgent epidemics of early syphilis, rectal gonorrhea, and new HIV infections in San Francisco, Boston, and elsewhere (44–46). Our findings that 27% (32 of 118) of men who have sex with men from the SFGH HIV clinic and 39% (47 of 121) of men who have sex with men from Fenway Community Health had infections involving buttocks, genitals, or perineum are consistent with sexual transmission of USA300 in this population.

    However, the genotype of multidrug-resistant USA300 in the patient from Fenway Community Health and the recent marked predominance of multidrug-resistant USA300 in Boston suggest the multidrug-resistant USA300 epidemic probably started in San Francisco and has been disseminated by the frequent cross-coastal travel of men who have sex with men. The recent emergence of multidrug-resistant community-associated MRSA with similar antimicrobial susceptibility profiles to multidrug-resistant USA300 was recently noted among men who have sex with men in New York City (32) and Los Angeles (Miller LG, Diep BA. Unpublished data), indicating the potential for rapid, nationwide dissemination of multidrug-resistant USA300 among men who have sex with men.

    Whether or not the individuals identify themselves as ‘gay’, the report makes it clear that MSM is most likely an extremely high risk factor and that evidence suggests its spread nationwide by those who engage in this behavior.

  13. Mike,

    Bathhouses, gloryholes, whatever, you name it. It’s just an example of a place where risky sexual practices could be met, as far as I can gather. Did they ever exist? If you don’t agree with them what does that say about people who support them or frequent them? What made those researchers assert that men who have sex with men are 13 times at a greater risk than other people? What could be going on in this type of encounter that makes the risk grow so high? Or is it the frequency of intercourse? Just a few questions to clear this out.


    You seem to have reacted rather touchily on my words. I would appreciate if your replies would not make remarks ad hominem without any proof. I did not go further than this research paper went.

    Take into consideration the message where I explicitly dislinked USA300 from any sexual orientation.

  14. is it fair to say that infectious diseases can be transmitted sexually when one is having anonymous sex at places like a bathhouse, airport restroom, rest stop, or even Equinox Gym or would that be just a myth? I already know there are many other ways to transmit infections but I am referring to sexually transmitting it. I seriously doubt that unprotected, if any, sex would occur if there was an honest disclosure about having a sexually transmitted disease up front – no matter who one has sex with – am I wrong?

  15. I agree with Timothy.

    David asserts that it is reasonable to invent myths where the experts already say insufficient evidence exists.

    Gossip is not a legitimate activity of the morally and religiously concerned. The Bible, in particular, condemns gossip.

  16. Jeeeez, do you folks read?

    The bathhouse example shows it can be the result of human recklessness.


    The whole bathhouse discussion is a red herring raised by someone whose job it is to search for ways of making gay people appear bad. Yes, that is what he is paid to do.

    But unless your paycheck is tied to anti-gay propaganda, you have no need to spread the myth.

    Larger concerns about MRSA among the sexually impuslive and self-absorbed (regardless of orientation) are a reasonable topic to discuss by the morally and religiously concerned.

    Except that there is no evidence that MRSA is spread among the sexually impulsive and self-absorbed. The CDC has stated that there is insufficient evidence to show that MRSA is being spread sexually. That is nothing other than speculation.

  17. Evan —

    No research connection has been shown between MRSA and bathhouses or sex clubs. Frankly I’d be relieved if the research had shown a connection, since at least we’d have an accurate picture idea of risk factors or vectors. But it was Nemario and CWFA, not researchers, who falsely linked MRSA to bathhouses and who then falsely equated MSM with gay men.

    As David Blakeslee says, facts are important. As other commenters have noted, online chat rooms and rest stops are far more common rendezvous points for MSM who are looking for multiple anonymous encounters. And as I have pointed out, perhaps 20 percent of MSM (according to the NYC study) do not identify as gay.

  18. facts are important things…specific facts are important things.

    What seems valuable in the larger view is the value of character values (what we simplify into ’emotional intelligence’) not only for ourselves, but for a larger society.

    Religion and religious practice has been simplistically described by some as mere superstition.

    I have come to believe that religious practice is one means of putting a filter on my impulses and longings and even my needs so that the best interests of my neighbor are part of the equation, even the neighbor whom I do not see or know.

    Larger concerns about MRSA among the sexually impuslive and self-absorbed (regardless of orientation) are a reasonable topic to discuss by the morally and religiously concerned. It is immoral for hospitals to not protect their patients from infection with MRSA and it is immoral for “consenting adults” to spread this disease wantonly and recklessly.

  19. I have to say that this picture of bathhouses, gloryholes & co. for sex is a bit disturbing. To me, from descriptions I read, they look like stables for sex rather than a place for intimacy. If someone needs that, be those bathhouses in existence or not, it seems to me they are into stuff that gives little importance to their own health or other people’s health.

    I wonder if health warnings work their way into everyone’s mind in the same way. (I’m thinking about a recent research report on addictive behaviours and gene mutations that make some people make impulsive choices. Linking doesn’t work for this one, so:

    Obviously, MSM behaviour is not the cause of spread, but it seems something is going on in such sexual environments that makes one 13 times more likely to get MRSA than not. Is that a problem of sexual behaviour, of individual impulsiveness or of actual existence of these places? The hospital example shows that it can be the result of professional negligence. The bathhouse example shows it can be the result of human recklessness. After all, hospitals are and have always been disease shelters.

    Until research will come up with more effective means to fight this problem (genetic studies are underway), there’s not much to do than exercise caution, stick to regular hygene and avoid places with greater associated risk.

  20. Mike–

    Thanks for the change in tone. I am sufficiently read-up on the down low, though, so will pass on the cited books. My long-term experience with Exodus, ‘the mother of ex-gay’, reveals that there are very few blacks who have ever identified as ‘ex-gay’ so most of the ‘down low’ stuff does not speak to ex-gay experience. Just as you see a distinct difference between MSM and gays, I see a very distinct difference between the ‘down low’ and struggling ex-gays.

    As for the struggling ex-gays, I addressed these problematic concerns some 30 years ago in my writings. A person who has made a commitment to leave the gay life and continues to waver is at a higher risk for disease than most gays. If they choose to have sex with another man, it will most likely be in an anonymous scenario. Worse, they are more likely not to have a condom since carrying one ‘for emergencies’ would be seen as ‘planning to fall’. But, another thing my experience showed me was that bathhouses were lowest on their list of possibilities. The unfortunate reality was that public restrooms, parks and rest areas were the most frequent problem areas. (One second you’re shopping, hiking or relieving yourself and the next second you’re having sex. With a bathhouse or a bookstore, your very presence in the establishment indicates your intent. Hence, the latter are the options least chosen.)

    Hi ho…hi ho…it’s off to work I go. Will check in later.

  21. No doubt men who are ashamed or whatever will call it MSM. But there are no actual numbers?? As far as the ex gays quoted by Toscano – that’s one experience – are there others? And I don’t doubt that ex gays – let me rephrase that – men who call them self ex gay but are not intending to be ex gay – are having gay sex. And it is sad to say that those men (whatever the numbers are) are not being authentic enough with themselves to practice and seek out good relationships with other men.

  22. Sincere apologies for my sour mood earlier.

    Eddy, true, they’re not countless, but the number depends on the extremity of the action.

    1. Scattered Words, the one-time beyond-gay blogger, blogged numerous times about going to one of D.C.’s bathhouses.

    2. I recommend two books about the down low:

    On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of ‘Straight’ Black Men Who Sleep with Men by J. L. King and Karen Hunter, and

    Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America by Keith Boykin and E. Lynn Harris.

    3. Former exgays at the Beyond Ex-Gay conference spoke of the sexual activities of fellow exgays in their respective programs. Feel free to explore that web site or Peterson Toscano’s blog. These folks weren’t hitting bathhouses — for the most part — but they weren’t chaste either.

    Mary — I linked earlier to the source of the New York study of MSM who frequent bathhouses.

    MSM is the public-health acronym for men who have sex with men. This label is chosen because many men — bisexuals, ex-gays, down-low African Americans, and married men — have sex with men but do not call themselves gay.

    Indeed, ex-gays are heavily pressured to call themselves heterosexual, even when they are sexually active and solely with the same gender. Labeling and identity problems such as this have forced public health authorities to use the label MSM instead of gay or bisexual.

    For info on MSM and public health, start here:

    Since Exodus ministries decline to track sexual activity and to work with public health officials, I don’t believe anyone knows exactly how many ex-gay males are sexually active with the same gender.

    But I believe it’s reasonable to hypothesize that those who are sexually active, pursue such activity through casual hookups in semi-public places where anonymous sex is easiest to find. Sad to say, sexually active ex-gay men will not be found at home with the hubby in front of the fireplace.


  23. I do wonder what source is quoted for the statistics on ex gays as patrons of bathhouses? Just wondering.

  24. Of course going to “one of those places” isn’t the only way you can get it, but in light of the recent outbreak I’m worried that it could easily spread via those who frequent these kinds of places around the country – I checked and the name of the public rest area guide is called “Spartacus”.

  25. Mike–

    This comment is priceless. Please back it up. “I’ve read countless testimonies of exgay and downlow men who frequent bathhouses.”

    Let’s get real here. If they are identifying as exgay or if they are on the downlow, are they really out there testifying to the fact that they ‘frequent’ (present tense) them? And, okay, I’ll give you a few…but “countless”?

    Ironically, I was trying to downplay Nemario’s portrayal that seemed to suggest that they were the norm of gay experience. I even suggested that less than 1% of gay men frequented them. I couldn’t produce stats–and neither can you–because bathhouses, like adult bookstores and movie houses, thrive on anonymous clientele. I was hoping we could get away from the war and focus on how to stop the spead of this disease. I don’t think bathhouses are the culprit here. If we succeed in making people think it can only happen to you if you go to ‘one of those places’, we’ve missed the point.

  26. Mike – Sorry for the glitches. Can’t explain it unless it had to do with the several links you posted. The spam filter sometimes snags those because spam often has links to sexually oriented material.

    My questions were sincere. Sources tell me of sex shops and bathhouses in Pittsburgh, Columbus and Washington DC. These are large cities so I assumed that other cities had them as well. I was not aware of the statements of gay public health groups. I am not sure why other gay groups wouldn’t denounce them as well.

    Why have I posted these articles? Awareness is one thing. The authors of the Annals of Internal Medicine had this in mind. They wanted gay men to be aware that simple precautions could prevent risk and I think that is a responsible move. I also posted a comment in the first post which balanced out the original article by saying all groups are at risk if precautions are not taken. I also noted the New York Times article which addresses the arguments of CWA and AFTAH. I do not agree with the arguments that MRSA will enter the general pop through gays. MRSA is already in the general pop and in fact, frighteningly, could be just about anywhere.

    With all due respect, you sound like you are in a sour mood 🙂

  27. Mary–

    Your comment appeared to be directed at David’s…reiterating the words ‘thoughtless’ and ‘self-absorbed’…and David wasn’t referring to gays.

  28. Eddy,

    I understand and I have seen such as you describe. My point was that doctors and nurses DO carry disease and spread it. And yes, we should watch out for their habits as well as our own. And yes, staph has been around a LONG time – in various strains – and this is going to spread if we do not practice safe habits. Has nothing to do with thoughtless self absorbed gays.

  29. Mary–

    In the Civil War days, we didn’t realize that diseases could spread so easily via the hands of the caregivers.

    In today’s world, thoughtlessness and self-absorbtion are key factors in the spread of disease. We think the rules are for the other guy or we invent some handy shortcut to save time.

    In the nursing home where I worked, one staff person rather proudly sported their gloved hands as they went from room to room. That is–until the head nurse pointed out they were only protecting themselves. They were carrying germs on the gloves from room to room. Her rule was: I should never see you outside of a patient’s room wearing gloves. They should have been disposed of before you left the room.

  30. In the olden days, before antibiotics, people were afraid of hospitals because of the greater risk of infection. More men injured in the civil war lost limbs due to infection rather than bona fide injury itself. Reading medical books on battlefield triage are alarming. I guess all these people were thoughtless self absorbed individuals as well.

  31. Most people would walk right by and not be aware what was inside. Advertising would be in with the sex ads not with health and fitness.


    Thanks – this is what I thought but wanted to make sure.

  32. A Christian grandfather friend of mine discovered that his newly born granddaughter contracted MRSA in the hospital shortly after her birth…

    The disease, as with many diseases, will congregate and spread where the ill are treated and where the thoughtless and self-absorbed do not take adequate care. Compulsive behavior (other than washing) will make its spread more likely.

  33. I just spent considerable time typing a comment and once again, this site has at least temporarily lost it.

    I am rapidly losing patience with this site’s technology as well as with certain commenters’ false associations among MRSA, bathhouses, and gay people generally. This site’s support for trolls reduces my assessment of the site’s integrity.

    Eddy, I believe I answered your question already. The research identified MSM — men who have sex with men — not gay people. A substantial number of MSM are ex-gay and down-low men. The MRSA research did not clearly detail its MSM demographic, but so I linked to a bathhouse study showing that 20 percent of NYC bathhouse MSM were not gay. I’ve read countless testimonies of exgay and downlow men who frequent bathhouses. Eddy, if you disagree with my concerns about non-gay MSM then please explain to me how gay people as a class should be blamed for the bathhouse activities of non-gays, ex-gays, down-lows and of scattered pockets of sexually prolific gays.

    If bathhouses were really a part of the MRSA story, I believe exgay and downlow men would be a disproportionate part of the story. But I don’t see where anyone here has shown the MRSA research connection to bathhouses.

    In fact, Box Turtle Bulletin pointed out that there are no bathhouses in S.F. and Boston — and BTB commenters in Calfornia noted that S.F.’s sex clubs have few customers these days.

    Warren, google Whitman-Walker Clinic and bathhouse.

    WWC opposed D.C.’s Crew Club in 1995 and continued to oppose bathhouses until it was shown in 2005 that the club had successfully helped combat STDs.

    Then please help me out here: Explain why you want civil rights advocacy groups — not gay public-health groups — to comment on matters of public health.

    Thanks. Now here’s hoping this site doesn’t eat yet another comment….

  34. LOL! Location is a key. When we had them in Minneapolis, they were in the fringe area of downtown…near the bars and adult bookstores. Had that dark and seamy look…I don’t think anyone would mistake it. And, if they did, the attendant at the entrance would surely tip them off.

    Advertising would be extremely minimal. Most people would walk right by and not be aware what was inside. Advertising would be in with the sex ads not with health and fitness.

  35. Where in the MRSA study was there any connection to bathhouses and sex clubs? Citations, please.

    Box Turtle Bulletin points out that there are no bathhouses in S.F. or Boston, and local commenters point out that the cities’ sex clubs have few customers.

    Ann, why are you asking me? You have a web browser — look it up.

    Warren, perhaps I’m just in a sour mood tonight, but I consider your question a bit disingenuous. As I said earlier, it’s no more the domain of a civil rights group to address public health matters than it would be the domain of your buddies at CWFA to declare a quarantine on people with the common cold.

    However, just fyi, gay health organizations such as Whitman-Walker Clinic in D.C. have a history of opposing sex clubs. Here’s one example of WWC’s opposition:

    Ten years later, successful efforts by that sex club to combat STD’s prompted WWC to say it was focusing on other, more serious concerns.

    This entire discussion about bathhouses appears to be another one of this web site’s commenters’ unsubstantiated and prurient side shows.

    Likewise, commenters’ ongoing effort to defy the corrected news coverage and to associate MRSA with gay people in general instead of with the populations that were identified as risks by the research.

  36. Eddy,

    Thanks – I kinda thought this 🙂 What do they present themselves to be to the general public though – in other words, how do they describe themselves to those that would not go there for the reasons you stated?

  37. Mike Airhart–

    Why did you include ‘ex-gays’ in the MRSA epicenters? Their inclusion would seem to indicate more casual means of transmission than the studies (including Jim Burroway’s) indicate.

    I agree that Nemario is coming across extremist and judgmental but trying to take a stab at him for being the “anonymous Nemario” is a bit of a stretch. We have Jayhuck, JAG, drowssap and grantdale among our top commenters. I doubt that any of these is their ‘given name’.

    The story sure did get out of hand in a hurry. I’m wondering if what they were trying to say is that in the other outbreaks, the general population wasn’t much at risk. Either you’re on that team or you aren’t. Either you’re in the infected group or you aren’t. But, now, the disease is ‘out there’. It’s showing up in several communities. These communities aren’t ‘closed sets’ like the sports teams or church groups. People visit them, interact with them–sometimes intimately, and therefore, if precautions aren’t taken, they can take the disease back home with them. I’m not sure if that’s what they were getting at in the first poorly executed press release.

    Jim at BoxTurtle did an excellent job of showing how this is NOT a ‘gay disease’. Attempts to portray it as God’s judgment or even as ‘the natural consequences of sin’ will fall short. The real issue is: now that it’s ‘out there’ how do we curb or stop the spread.

    When I worked in a nursing home nearly a decade ago, we were concerned about MRSA’s. Because of the skin to skin contact that happens in daily personal care, it is something that long-term care facilities have been on guard against. Gloves and frequent hand-washing have been adequate measures for preventing outbreaks. Bathing or showering after sex should be equally effective.


    Your comments in general seem directed towards portraying gays and gay sex as particularly nasty and unhealthy. My exposure to the straight world reveals a whole lot of ‘nastiness’ there as well. Please be careful how you characterize an entire group of people. I’d be willing to bet that the percentage of gays who frequent bathhouses, sex clubs and rest areas is less than 1 percent.


    In this context, a bathhouse is a gay meeting place primarily for sexual encounters. They usually have private rooms, showers, perhaps a steam room or sauna. I think it’s safe to say that no one goes to a bathhouse just for a shower or a sauna. In many, you leave your clothes ‘at the door’ and proceed with a towel until you see something you like. Unlike a gym, there is no one going around saying ‘cut that out’. Most fair-sized cities had them until the rise of AIDS. Conservatives rallied against them for the obvious conservative reasons but, in many cases, the gay community itself felt that they were risky and unhealthy and also rallied to shut them down. Today, they survive in some of the largest cities.

  38. and sex clubs.

    I don’t see arguments projecting people’s behavior as excuses not to close down these disease centers, not to mention cracking down on public rest areas where they meet as well – the public rest area guide “Sparticus” or whatever it’s called.

  39. Thinking solely of the spread of MRSA and not of any other health or morals issues:

    A significant percentage of persons who go to bathhouses do not have a safe and convenient location to engage in sexual behavior. Many are married or closeted or do not identify publicly as gay. These people cannot bring their sexual partner into their home. Nor is the lifestyle of these persons conducive to a monogamous committed relationship.

    But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to have sex.

    Pragmatically, we have to recognize that a hefty chunk of these people will engage in sexual activity whether or not there is a bathhouse for them to meet in. Sexual encounters will simply move from the bathhouse to some other venue.

    The best defense against MRSA is soap and water. From a health standpoint, it is preferable that persons engaging in anonymous sexual encounters do so somewhere that they can clean theirselves afterward. A bathhouse does have such facilities.

    Now there are other issues surrounding the issue of bathhouses – other STDs, drugs, moral and psychological issues – but MRSA is not a good argument for closing their doors.

  40. I would think that in light of this recent outbreak it wouldn’t matter if the bathhouses were in Hawaii.

  41. Mike,

    Projecting [my] own wish or attempting dishonest strawman argumentation? Neither, just a simple question. Thanks for your answer. Makes sense to me. I appreciate your advocacy to close down these shady businesses.

  42. Mike – Can you document where a recognized gay advocacy group has advocated for closing them down?

    I know you and others likeminded have advocated this but are there any of the major groups who have done so?

  43. I don’t buy into the “you can have the right to do with your body what you want” argument, Mary, especially when we’re dealing with an epidemic – not to mention that unhealthy behavior puts the burden on society’s tax dollars. e.g. In most of the country there are laws against prostitution, though I believe some areas are beginning to or have legalized it.

  44. What behvior increases transmission of this easy-to-transmit strain?

    Behavior that causes abrasions is a significant risk.

    If, for example, anal sex increases abrasion and increases the risk, then, that behavior may not be associated with “sexual orientation” in a 1-to-1 ratio. However, it surely must be more connected with men who have sex with men.

    And men who have sex with men — anal sex for example — are more likely to be sexually attracted to men.

    The risk among men who engage exclusively in sex with men, and partake in anal sex or sex that causes abrasions, is elevated based on behavior alone.

    The risk to women who have sex with men who have sex with men is elevated, indirectly, depending on the sexual behavior of the men when having sex with women. But the risk is elevated due first to the sex-with-men behavior of the men. They bring that to their sex with women.

    And men who are openly gay identified are more likely to be sexually attracted to men, engage in anal sex with men, and so forth. But less likely to elevate the risk among women.

    So, for the sake of the folks here who are primarily concerned about the message to the openy gay population, what behavior places a man most at risk?

    Even if a man does not engage in abrasion-inducing sex, if he does engage in same-sex sexual behavior with a man who does engage sexual acts that heighten the risk of transmission his behavior becomes riskier.

    Given other sources by which transmission can occur, even an openly gay man who is not promiscuous, and who does not engage in abrasion-inducing behavior (for example), is at an elevated risk just by engaging in same-sex sexual behavior with a man who does engage in that sexual behavior.

    But why not be specific? Two men. Openly gay. No third man in the picture. What behavior should they minimize or avoid to reduce their risk of transmission?

  45. No, Jim, you are either projecting your own wish or attempting dishonest strawman argumentation.

    I’ve always opposed the bathhouses and publicly advocated their closure.

  46. Well, not only that Mike, but online social networking plays a huge role in many people’s lives – who they talk to, hook up with, etc…. The suggestion that bath houses and “spas” should be shut down is out of touch and synch with reality. In today’s world, you would have to shut down the internet.

    In addition, when a medical profesional makes a report about a man coming in to recieve treatment for a sexually contracted infection/disease they may report that man as gay when that man may identify as straight. So we really do not know the measure that is being used for defining a patient.

    Again, I don’t like the idea of a person who has multiple partners or anonymous sex or casual sex. But that’s me. A person has a right (for the most part) to choose his/her behavior to engage in the sexuality of their liking (sexuality being a bigger, broader definition than just one drawn on gender lines) Not all gay men are getting MRSA because not all are going to engage in the same kind of sexual contact, frequency, variety of partners, etc… And I’ll bet if we could document prostitution as closley as we supposedly document gay men – then we would see a spike there, too.

  47. The original research identified MSM as a potential epicenter — not self-identified gays, not homosexuals.

    According to a New York study of supposedly “gay” bathhouses:

    More than half the tested patrons were of men of color.

    About 20% did not self-identify as gay, and 14% reported having female sex partners.

    In other words, 20 percent of these MSM identified as exgay, bisexual or heterosexual.

  48. So do hospitals, Nemario. Should we shut these down as well – where hundreds of patients a day are being exposed to staph.

    Nemario – is it that you just do not like the idea of men having sex with eachother? Or that you think it is immoral? Because all the excuses everyone is giving for shutting a place down or stopping a behavior can be the places where heterosexual (celibate or not) can contract the same disease and can contract the same disease for having sex, also?

    Granted, I don’t like the idea of people having multiple partners but I have my own body and do with my own body something different – aren’t you allowed to do that too? My suggestion would be for you not to engage in sex with multiple partners and to stay away from hospitals, gyms, locker rooms, etc…

  49. Gay health groups have long advocated the re-closure of bathhouses and sex clubs, of which there are only a few in the nation’s largest cities.

    As a federal lobbying group for constitutional rights and equality, HRC bears no more responsibility to pressure local health agencies than the American Automobile Association.

    I am not surprised that the anonymous “Nemario” suppresses the truth that MRSA is bred by anyone in the general population (but especially in hospitals) who misuses antibiotics.

    I am not surprised that Nemario excuses the other MRSA epicenters — hospitals, prisons, downlow blacks, exgays, and Bally’s and Gold’s Gyms.

    However, I question how much value trolls can bring to this discusssion.

  50. “In light of this behaviorally related MRSA outbreak,” said Barber, “we additionally ask HRC and other groups to call on local health agencies to shut down the many bathhouses and sex clubs around the country where men meet for anonymous sex with other men, often multiple partners, on a daily basis. These places create the ‘perfect storm’ for infectious disease, including MRSA.”

    Mary, maybe in light of this recent outbreak we should be concerned about the above cesspools, thus reducing the risk of people like us “contracting staph from another source.”

  51. So only if I am gay and contract staph am I a member of the cespool?? Or can I be a member by contracting staph from another source??

  52. Mary, gays in Boston and San Francisco appear to be the epicenter of this outbreak. It’s presently rare in the general population according to collected isolates in the U.S. I would guess that Boston and San Francisco is somewhat of a gay resort, a cespool in which people come and go. And reports of the bug are now turning up in NYC and LA.

  53. Jim,

    What I don’t understand about your statements is that you focus on the gays – what about the rest of the population that is at risk? What does that say about my behavior, or anyone else who contracts this staph?

    I understand that you think that gay sex is causing this?

  54. The New York Times, a liberal bulletin board asserts the laughable statement that “the report…seemed to cast an unfair, and all too familiar, stigma on [gay] sexuality.”

    Yes, “the report” did that! Not the gays having sex. New York Times — brillant literature!

    Funny how Bien Diep, has to backpedal now due to all this media hype.

  55. Concerned Women for America has joined in the deception.

    MRSA has always posed a threat to the general population. The fact is that MRSA thrives in various types of concentrations — hospitals, fitness and swim clubs, anyplace where large groups of people are in contact with common surfaces.

    The fact that a cluster of men who have sex with men (including exgays and down-low African-Americans) in SF and Boston form one of many concentrations, does not make MRSA a gay disease or lessen the pre-existing threat to the general population.

    Gay health groups and general health clinics have been working hard, for decades, to discourage risky activities among young men in big cities. The Christian political groups have done nothing to discourage risky activities or encourage good health; instead, they continue to assert the falsehood that gay men are naturally promiscuous and diseased. And they continue to oppose disease-prevention education.

  56. This is yet another example that demonstrates that journalists and the general public need better science education.

  57. And I expect a full retraction and apology from Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber for misusing this for financial gain.

    I am also expecting a full Beatles reunion with all original members sometime soon.

  58. Nemario,

    Well, you don’t have to have sex with a gay man to be infected by this staph infection. You need only come into contact with it at a hospital, gym, locker room, person etc… (please see any news article last year about the incidents of this staph infection – locations, when and who)

    My grandmother was recently hospitalized and before being released was checked for this staph infection as she had IV’s during her stay. I don’t think I would call her a gay man. And being the germphobe that I am, I was especially careful in my contact with her during that time and shortly after her release. My grandmother, I, and health care workers may be more careful as a group because we are aware of the risk and there is nothing PC about that. Just common sense. And now gay men are becoming aware of the risk also. I mean, you are going to get the flu, a cold, staph – whatever it is your sex partner has. Nothing gay or straight about that. Your germy and infected? Your partner will likely get it.

  59. Mary there was no clarification, unless you were thinking that MRSA could only be transmitted among gay people which are not what anyone was saying. The only “clarification” there was were the researchers apologizing to any gay people they offended with their science and all being politically correct under pressure and stuff. Frankly I’m surprised the report even got out since it was sponsored by the CDC and gays have practically infiltrated that place (reliable sources who work there estimate that around 30% of the people who work there are gay, don’t ask for names ‘cause I won’t give them). Oh well.

  60. But the damage is done. Some christian groups have already pounced on gays again and some “professionals” have already published their remarks using the original article as their source (without the clarification) Now it is recorded and printed into history again – how christians have had a less than christian model of behaving towards gay epople. Too bad – it was such an opportunity to show real grace.

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