Staph & 'General Population' Release
This was emailed this morning to the entire UCSF press office staff. I hope to receive a reply and apology before the day is over.
The scientists are concerned that it could also soon gain ground in the general population. [...]"But because the bacteria can be spread by more casual contact, we are also very concerned about a potential spread of this strain into the general population." [...]In a second part of the study based on patient medical charts, the scientists found that sexually active gay men in San Francisco are about 13 times more likely to be infected than the general population. [...]"The potential widespread dissemination of multi-resistant form of USA300 into the general population is alarming," he adds. [...]
I get lonely sometimes being the sole activist saying deep skepticism is needed when UCSF/DPH and the SF Chronicle are screaming alarming things about gays and infections, and I'm pleased as punch that so many others are upset about this latest sex panic against us.
[Update number two]It’s difficult to express the ire I felt encountering the San Francisco Chronicle’s headline and accompanying article on Tuesday morning written by Sabin Russell, Chronicle Medical Writer, about a supposedly new staph infection epidemic at which San Francisco’s gay community is at the epicenter.
Along with the sensational headline, S.F. gay community an epicenter for new strain of virulent staph, a graphic, looking conveniently like a quarantine blueprint, colored San Francisco’s Castro district red. [...]
While it was instantly predictable that activists like Michael Petrelis would be justifiably outraged, similar responses in the blogosphere were as swift and as damning. And while the Chronicle wasn’t the only publication to pump out the sensationalist tripe extrapolated from UCSF’s press release, it should be ashamed of its inability to consider the implications of its irresponsibility.
For anyone who thinks the response to this is an overreaction, or questions the usefulness of Michael Petrelis' advocacy, I just learned of a written apology issued to Petrelis by the author of the UCSF press release, Wallace Ravven, in which he agrees to a public apology in a more satisfying context to be issued soon.
It was just as instantly predicable that the rabid homophobia of organizations like Concerned Women for America (who once labeled me a pornographer in a press release) would latch on to this coverage and use it as a pretext to instill fear, hate and division among their already confused constituents. As illustrated by their statements in a panic-inducing press release,
Mr. Petrelis --
First, let me apologize for unintentionally offending many people. I do think there were statements in the news release that were open to misinterpretation, as our official statement below acknowledges. The distinction that the release appeared to make between the gay population and the general population stems from epidemiological language, which includes everyone -- gays, straights, etc. -- in the "general population." But this clearly was not the context in which it appeared, which was unclear and unfortunate.
I hope you found useful the main purpose of the news release, which was to highlight an issue of potentially very serious public health concern.
Our news unit strives for accuracy and sensitivity, and I again I apologize for any unintended offense.
Manager, Research Communications, UCSF
The following statement is posted on the UCSF new site: http://pub.ucsf.edu/newsservices/
STATEMENT FROM UCSF DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS REGARDING A STUDY ON EMERGENCE OF METHICILLIN-RESISTANT STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS CLONE USA300 IN MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN:
We regret that our recent news report (1-14-08) about an important population-based study on MRSA USA300 with public health implications contained some information that could be interpreted as misleading. We deplore negative targeting of specific populations in association with MRSA infections or other public health concerns, and we will be working to ensure that accurate information about the research is disseminated to the health community and the general public.WALLACE RAVVENManager - Research CommunicationsUCSF News Services415-476-2557502-1332