Take science, add a dash of poor science reporting and a hint of homophobia and get this media coverage of antibiotic resistant MRSA, or flesh-eating bacteria. The source is a study that found gay men in Boston and San Francisco were about 13 times more likely to be infected with antibiotic-resistant MRSA than the general population in the cities.
Antibiotic-resistant MRSA is not sexually transmitted – it is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact (which may or may not be sexual) or by touching contaminated surfaces. So a high prevalence is not necessarily related to sexual practices, but to a population that has a lot of close contact. However, most of the press coverage focused on TEH BUTT SEX!!! For example, Reuter’s lede (via CJR):
A drug-resistant strain of potentially deadly bacteria has moved beyond the borders of U.S. hospitals and is being transmitted among gay men during sex, researchers said on Monday.
But when I looked at the original study, the prevalence of infection in the buttocks, genitals, or perineum was only 25-37%. TEH BUTT SEX was not responsible for a majority of the infections – the skin-to-skin contact (like dancing or touching the same doorhandle) that results from living in highly concentrated gay areas like the Castro was at fault. That’s why outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant MRSA have been found among other people in close proximity, like schools, the military, and sports teams. (I know, the joke is obvious, but they can’t ALL be gay.)
Because everyone who touches other people is theoretically at risk of an antibiotic-resistant MRSA infection, putting the onus on gay sex is problematic. It’s not a Gay Disease. Of course, that didn’t stop the lovely ladies of Concerned Women of America from blaming poor Will and Grace (via Salon):
“Television shows like ‘Will and Grace’ glorify the homosexual lifestyle,” Barber declared, “while our children are taught in schools that homosexuality is a perfectly healthy, alternative sexual ‘orientation.’ ‘Stay out of our bedrooms!’ we’re often commanded by militant ‘gay’ activists. Well, now the dangerous and possibly deadly consequence of what occurs in those bedrooms is spilling over into the general population. It’s not only frightening, it’s infuriating. Citizens, especially parents, need to stand up and say, ‘No More!'”
I hope CWA boycotted the Superbowl, too, since it’s not just the gays we need to fear – it’s football players. Salon goes on to point that in a study on the St. Louis Rams, researchers found that
…infection occurred only among linemen and linebackers, and not among those in backfield positions, probably because of the frequent contact among linemen during practice and games.
That’s right, Concerned Women of America…no infection among those in backfield positions. Now I need to go scrub any not-gay MRSA off my not-gay-though-kinda-mannish hands.
Thanks to Scott for the suggestions and the links!