Gay Men at Higher Risk for New MRSA Strain
Sexually active gay men are at higher risk for a highly antibiotic-resistant strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a US study found. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, said the bacteria appear to be transmitted most easily through intimate sexual contact, but can spread through casual skin-to-skin contact or via contaminated surfaces. The newly discovered strain of bacteria is closely related to MRSA bacteria found in hospitals and the community, but resists many more frontline antibiotics. Both strains technically are known as MRSA USA300, but the new one spreads easily through skin-to-skin contact, invading skin and tissue beneath the skin, the researchers said. “These multidrug resistant infections often affect gay men at body sites in which skin-to-skin contact occurs during sexual activities,” lead author Binh Diep said in a statement. “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.” However, a good scrubbing with soap and water may be the most effective way to prevent transmission of this bacteria—especially after sex, he added. The findings were published online ahead of print in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

US Military Mum on Gay Policy
The US military apparently is not enforcing its policy of discharging gay soldiers who speak of their sexual orientation, USA Today reported. The report cited the case of Army Sgt. Darren Manzella, who appeared on the CBS program 60 Minutes recently. In the interview, he said his fellow soldiers knew he was gay, and showed a home video of him kissing his boyfriend. He told USA Today he informed his commander he was gay in 2006, and the Army investigated and saw the kissing home video. “They found ‘no evidence of homosexuality,’” Manzella said. Eugene Fidell of the National Institute of Military Justice, a group of military legal experts, stated to USA Today that with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, discharging troops was questionable: “Military managers may be turning a blind eye, because it’s a nuisance, and we need these people.”

Pentagon: Gay Ban Still Being Enforced
The US military, following the release of statistics showing a major drop in homosexuality-related discharges, said the ban still is being enforced. The drop in discharges resulting from the military’s ban on open homosexuality—from 1,273 in 2001 to 612 in 2006—has been cited by gay rights activists as evidence that commanders are ignoring the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, because they need all the able-bodied soldiers they can get for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Washington Times reported. The Pentagon said in a statement to the Times that the ban still is being enforced. “Our policy implements the law Congress passed after prolonged research and debate,” according to Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez. “The Department will continue to follow Congressional mandate on homosexual conduct. We can’t speculate as to why the number of discharges has declined.”

Same-Sex Couples as Satisfied as Others
Two US studies dispute the stereotype that couples in same-sex relationships are not as committed as their heterosexual counterparts. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign compared 30 committed gay male and 30 committed lesbian couples with 50 engaged heterosexual couples and 40 older married heterosexual couples, as well as with dating heterosexual couples. Lead author Glenn I. Roisman said the same-sex relationships were similar to those of opposite-sex couples—all had positive views of their relationships, but those in the more same-sex committed relationships resolved conflict better than the heterosexual dating couples. In the second study, researchers found that same-sex couples were similar to heterosexual couples on most relationship variables, and legalized status of a relationship did not seem to be the overriding factor affecting same-sex relationships. The findings are reported in the journal Developmental Psychology.

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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