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January 17, 2008

Gay men at greaters risk of getting 'superbug'


Gay men are evidently at greater risk than heterosexuals of infection from a highly virulent bacteria that has proven resistant to most antibiotics.

The highly-drug resistant "superbug" MRSA bacteria -- an acronym for methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria -- can be transmitted readily through homosexual intercourse, putting gay men at increased risk, according to research by the University of California at San Francisco.

"These multi-drug resistant infections often affect gay men at body sites in which skin-to-skin contact occurs during sexual activities," says Binh Diep, of the San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center and lead author of the report appearing in the online edition the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The MRSA bacteria appears to be transmitted most easily through intimate sexual contact, but also can spread through casual skin-to-skin contact or contact with surfaces that have been contaminated.

Until recently, MRSA bacteria were confined to hospitals, where extensive use of antibiotics has prompted highly-resistant bacteria strains to evolve. Recently, however, scientists have observed a growing number of cases of the illness surfacing outside the hospital setting, causing a number of deaths and serious illnesses.

Be ye careful!

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