Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gay Men's Health Crisis to Partner with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to Offer Free Vaccines for Meningitis

Recent increase of cases among gay men underscores the need for more vaccines
and outreach
New York, NY--GMHC will partner with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Men's Sexual Health Project to offer free vaccines for meningitis on Thursday, March 7, Friday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 20 at the GMHC Center for HIV Prevention, 224 West 29th Street in Chelsea.  In the past several months, there has been an increase in the cases of meningitis among gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City.  The majority of cases reported are from men who had intimate contact with another man they met on a digital application or website. The recent increase of cases underscores the need for expanded access to vaccines and outreach for those most impacted.
"We are very concerned about the outbreak of meningitis among men who have sex with men in New York City," stated Jay Varma, MD, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control, DOHMH.  "We have identified two groups that are at highest risk of contracting meningitis: HIV-infected men who have sex with men, and any men, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men met through a website, digital application (App), or at a bar or party. Vaccination is the best defense against this dangerous infection. We urge men who meet these criteria to get vaccinated now and protect themselves from this disease before it is too late."

Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges).  Symptoms include:  fever and chills, mental status changes, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, severe headache, and stiff neck.  It is a serious disease that can result in permanent brain damage or death.

Regarding who should receive the vaccine during this outbreak, any gay man or MSM who is at least 18 years of age, regardless of HIV status, and has had intimate contact with a man they met through a website (Manhunt, Adam 4 Adam, etc.), digital application (GRINDR, SCRUFF, etc.), a bar, or a party since September 1, 2012 or plan on having such contact in the future.

"We are proud to partner with our esteemed colleagues at the DOHMH," said Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC. "When we were first notified of the meningitis outbreak among gay men, we immediately alerted our constituents through social media networks  and flyer distribution.  We also hosted a community forum last year with widely respected experts.  We are thankful for Demetre Daskalakis, MD, a member of GMHC's Board of Directors, for coordinating our vaccine efforts."

Demetre Daskalakis, MD MPH is the Infectious Disease Fellowship Program Director at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, Assistant Attending at Bellevue Hospital and Founding Director of the Men's Sexual Health Project (M*SHP).  Dr. Daskalakis arranged for the doses of the vaccine for free from the DOHMH and will be administering the vaccinations.

Dr. Daskalakis commented: "Given the urgent need to address this potentially lethal infection impacting one of the communities so well served by GMHC, I am grateful for the support provided by both the DOHMH and GMHC to make this vaccine available to individuals at risk in a venue so comfortable and familiar to this community of MSM."


Thursday, March 7, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Friday, March 15, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Wednesday March 20, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Sign up in advance (required) at:
GMHC Main Office
446 West 33rd Street - 7th floor
(between 9th and 10th Avenues)
Or call (212) 367-1420
Or e-mail

Vaccinations will be given at:
GMHC Center for HIV Prevention
224 West 29th Street - Ground Floor
(between 7th and 8th Avenues)

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