ON THE RISE

Deadly Meningitis Strain Returns To Los Angeles’ Gay Community, County Offering Free Vaccinations

la-me-ln-meningitis-vaccine-gay-men-20140402-001Following the spread of a lethal meningococcal strain in New York and Los Angeles last year, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a statement this week urging “men who have sex with men” to get a meningitis vaccination, citing an uptick in meningitis-related deaths once again.

According to the statement, eight new cases have been identified so far in 2014, and “four cases were reported among men who have sex with men (MSM), including three men who were HIV-positive.” Three “lived or socialized” in the West Hollywood and North Hollywood areas.

Department director Dr. Jonathan Fielding is urging all men who have sex with men, “regardless of HIV status,” to visit their health provider for a meningococcal vaccination. According to the Department, those at highest risk are those “who regularly have close or intimate contact with multiple partners, or who seek partners through the use of digital applications, particularly those who share cigarettes, marijuana or use illegal drugs.”

The Department was blasted last year for not reacting quickly enough to a similar strain that killed several in Los Angeles and New York’s gay communities. This time, Los Angeles County residents are eligible for free vaccinations during the next week — you can visit LACounty.gov for a list of public health clinics offering the free vaccination close to you.

Photo via LA Times