(Atlanta, Georgia) The Centers for Disease Control is disputing the results of a study that claims a drug-resistant bacteria, MRSA, is now being found primarily among gay men in major cities.
The study which appears in the online version of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine was released last week. (story)
The researchers examined records from outpatient clinics and found that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is showing up in large numbers among men who have sex with men in New York, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles.
In San Francisco the bacteria was found to be 13 times more likely in gay patients than other people in the city.
The researchers said the bacteria appears to be spread through sexual contact.
But in a statement the CDC says that sex and sexuality appear to have nothing to do with transmission.
"It is important to note that the groups of MSM in which these isolates have been described are not representative of all MSM, so conclusions can not be drawn about the prevalence of these strains among all MSM," the CDC statement said.
"The groups studied in this report may share other characteristics or behaviors that facilitate spread of MRSA, such as frequent skin-to-skin contact ... There is no evidence at this time to suggest that it MRSA is a sexually-transmitted infection in the classical sense."
The statement also provided ways of ensuring that MRSA is not passed on.
These include keeping hands clean, keeping any open wounds bandaged, and not sharing utensils.
The study also has been criticized by LGBT rights groups who said that the researchers were attempting to portray the disease the way HIV/AIDS was at the onset - as the "gay cancer".
Henry Chambers, one of the study's authors and a professor of medicine at UCSF, said he regretted that the study has been made a political issue.
"We deplore negative targeting of specific populations in association with MRSA infections or other public health concerns ...[We were] "looking at this from a scientific point of view and not projecting any political impact."