Castro health center to hold staph forum

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation's gay and bisexual men's health center in the city's Castro District will hold a community forum tonight to discuss a recent report on methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus, known commonly as drug-resistant MRSA, according to officials.

Magnet, the men's health center on 18th St. near Castro Street, will host the forum to discuss the study released Jan. 14 online in the Annals of Internal Medicine that found a high prevalence of MRSA among men who have sex with men in and around the Castro, officials reported.

The study was conducted by researcher Binh Diep at the University of California, San Francisco, and found that MRSA spread through skin-to-skin contact and by touching MRSA-contaminated surfaces, officials reported.

The drug-resistant infection has been present in the general population for 15 years, causing an estimated 19,000 deaths annually. MRSA can cause abscesses and skin ulcers for healthy adults and those who are HIV positive, according to officials. The infection can be prevented from spreading by using good hygiene and not sharing razors and towels.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation will host tonight's event to offer community members a panel of experts to speak about the study and its implications, including the co-author of the study and Magnet's medical director, according to officials.

“The recent study offers little that is new, but has engendered fear among the local community, and, perhaps even additional homophobia.

Magnet will provide everyone an opportunity to understand the facts about MRSA and to discuss this report,” foundation Deputy Executive Director and San Francisco Health Commissioner Steven Tierney said.

The forum tonight is open to anyone and will begin at 7 p.m. at Magnet, located at 4122 18th St., near Castro Street in San Francisco, officials reported.

A follow-up community forum will be held Jan. 30 at the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center at 1800 Market St. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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