Community 10.30.2012

Health Advisory: New York City Meningitis Cases Among Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has issued a health alert in response to a recent outbreak of meningococcal meningitis among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the New York City area. In short, there have been nine cases of this potentially deadly disease among gay or bisexual men in 2012 in New York City, including cases this past month. Meningococcal meningitis is spread by close contact—this includes kissing and other sexual activity, but also sharing utensils or drinking glasses or cigarettes. There have been no cases of meningococcal meningitis among MSM in the Boston area.

BPHC’s current recommendation is for any MSM—but especially any MSM who are HIV positive—who travel frequently to NYC to consider getting vaccinated.

  • For HIV positive MSM age 55 years or under, the recommendation is to receive two meningococcal meningitis vaccines spaced about eight weeks apart.
  • For HIV positive MSM age 56 years or over, only one meningococcal meningitis vaccine is needed.
  • For HIV negative MSM, only one meningococcal meningitis vaccine is needed

If you are a Fenway patient and have a medical appointment scheduled this Fall or Winter, please ask for the meningococcal meningitis vaccine during your medical appointment.

If you do not have a medical appointment scheduled and you meet the BPHC recommendation shown in bold red letters above, then please call our appointment line at 617.927.6000 and schedule a vaccination appointment. Please wear a T-shirt to your vaccination appointment, so that our nursing staff can easily access the part of your arm that gets vaccinated.

The following links provide great resources regarding meningococcal meningitis: