Saturday, February 02, 2008

New UCSF Slime:
Gay Anal Sex Rapidly Spreading Disease

I wish I could say I'm shocked that a publication in San Francisco today is sliming gay men with inaccuracies over the recent UCSF study on gays and staph infections, especially since it's been a full three weeks since the story broke and there's been massive public discourse on the misinterpretations of the study, but I can't.
Today's edition of UCSF's student newspaper the Synapse prints an inflammatory and defamatory article on the study, stating a falsehood about staph infections and butt-sex, and omitting facts about the controversial and stigmatizing press release from UCSF.

A recently published study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine reports that a new, multi drug-resistant strain of the bacteria Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is being spread rapidly among gay men in San Francisco and Boston.

The new strain is spread easily through anal intercourse as well as casual skin-to-skin contact and contact with contaminated surfaces. [...]

A complete and utter failure to report on the serious questions and anger engendered in the gay community by the study. Oh, and the tepid non-apology apology from the UCSF press office escapes mention, showing how useful the retraction was in educating and reaching reporters.

The Synapse writer is clearly interested first and foremost in creating fear in the reader, as evidenced by the use of the words "rapidly" and "easily" early in the story, and in pathologizing gay anal sex in the second sentence. Great job at reinforcing the "gays = disease" lie and stigma, UCSF.

As anyone who's read the study knows, the research did not examine the sexual intercourse activities of the patients whose records were studied:

Limitations: The study was retrospective, and sexual risk behavior was not assessed.

And the next caveat in the findings said the staph infections "might be sexually transmitted" in the gay community, the key word being "might".But why let those minor details get in the way of one more arm of the UCSF behemoth pass up an opportunity to slime and defame fags?

The Synapse author also made note of "flesh eating bacteria," a term that's often been used in the most hysterical global media coverage, leading, I believe, many readers to equate gays not just with disease, but cannibalism too!

I need to remind the gay community that UCSF has not fully explained in writing what it did wrong and how the problem is being addressed internally. UCSF has failed to hold any public meeting with the community, nor have they unveiled plans to start town hall forums. The university's p.r. and research staff are quite content to remain in their ivory tower.

With the fourth week of this crisis starting in just a few days, and the story showing remarkable legs for the media, UCSF has made no public accounting to the gay community and no plans seem in the offing for the university to engage us. This must change.

Today's Synapse article is a toxic reminder of how business as usual for gays and UCSF is not an option for gay health advocates.

Nothing less than a series of public forums organized by UCSF, along with written statements from the chancellor and gay staffers spelling out what's wrong and how they intend to correct the problems, should satisfy the gay community.

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