WTF? Meningitis Message Missing Young Gay Men of Color - Gay City News | Gay City News

WTF? Meningitis Message Missing Young Gay Men of Color

Miguel Zapata.

Miguel Zapata.

BY MIGUEL ZAPATA | I’m a 20-year-old young man of color living on the Lower East Side. I was raised by my mother who is from the Dominican Republic. I’ve worked in retail sales of trendy clothes since I was 17. I am trying to get back to college and I think I want to become a social worker. I like helping people and listening to them and maybe making a difference in their lives.

I came out at the age of 16 and have been sexually active since the age of 14. I’m single, enjoying the single life and the New York City nightlife. I like going out to parties and I’m looking forward to my 21st birthday in two weeks. It’ll be exciting to be in bars and mingle with people and being able to have a drink without being carded.

Before this week when my mentor brought up the meningitis outbreak, I had never heard of such a thing and never believed that I could be at risk.

Today I visited the New York City Department of Health webpage and I was shocked by the statistics and how at risk I am. I was shocked to learn that gay men are most at risk and that the Department of Health is now recommending that sexually active gay and bisexual men statewide should get vaccinated. I’m traveling to Los Angeles this weekend to see a friend and I am saddened and surprised to learn that a few weeks ago, a 33-year-old man from West Hollywood died from meningitis four days after being diagnosed.

What he f—?

Why haven’t my peers and friends and I heard of this outbreak? Why isn’t there more information on the subject?  My friends and I are all sexually active and most of them aren’t practicing safe sex. This is a big issue in my community, especially with gay men of color because there aren’t messages about these types of things or even about safe sex for us.

I haven’t heard about this from anyone until now. I haven’t heard anything in Spanish. I haven’t heard anything from anyone that looks like me. This is a big problem. The Department of Health needs to get it together and inform more people in our community about this outbreak ad how to practice safe sex.

I don’t know how to create a pubic health campaign, but this is what people like me need to know: We need to be informed about meningitis and how it’s contracted.

This is something serious happening in my community, among gay and bisexual men who are sexually active. Prevention and information about this needs to be spread and talked about more so that it gets out and reaches everyone in our community, and doesn’t leave out young gay men of color who are at real risk, like me.

This is an outrage.

9 Responses to WTF? Meningitis Message Missing Young Gay Men of Color

  1. Isabel. May 9, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Due to lack of information HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases are the only conditions society believes homosexuals or just anyone sexually active is at risk of getting. There are many other diseases out there. The best thing to do is practice safe sex all the time.
    Yes, I do agree with you there needs to be more information available regarding meningitis to the homosexual society since now it is known that gay men are more at risk.

  2. W. M. Hamilton May 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Both the article and the above comment seem to ignore that meningococcal meningitis would appear to transmit very efficiently with a simple tongue-kiss, unlike HIV, so the ordinary standards of "safer sex" are utterly inadequate, here. So far as personal responsibility, it might profit Zapata to bother to be informed, for example by an occasional glance at Gay City News, the very medium of his comments! And if most of his friends are playing unsafely, why isn't he taking care to be a particularly accurate source of information for them, as well as himself? But I'll agree that the City is obviously gravely at fault. And I'll add that if you go to the Chelsea Clinic for the injection, go very early indeed. On a Saturday at number 36, arriving within fifteen minutes of opening, I got told they were "too full to accommodate" me! How is this situation to deal with the huge numbers theoretically involved? Having enough vaccine is fine, but how is it to get injected? I'd say the city indeed isn't putting very much money or even true concern behind meningitis, but instead pretty much posturing to avoid heat.

  3. Stuart Baanstra May 9, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    The queer community has greater priorities, doesn't it, Mrs Quinn?

    • Dean Dafis May 13, 2013 at 11:04 pm


      I beg to differ. Speaker Chris Quinn (the only elected official thus far I must point out) has repeatedly hosted public briefings on this issue, relentlessly issued press release updates & reports from DOH, and invited the community to public hearings to discuss and inform. It is really easy and rather lazy to paint A's on prominent leaders' backs than it is to actually be productive and resourceful. In the history of our city there has not been a leader or public official who has prioritized our issues more than Speaker Quinn has: LGBT homeless youth shelter funding, HIV funding, SAGE, marriage. GENDA…. Im afraid once again history proves that people like yourself would rather crucify one of their own rather than take responsibility for their own malfeasance or negligence!

  4. tony in larchmont May 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    The gay white community is extraordinarily racist and the lack of info could be at least a passive message that the gay community labled/stigmatized as being minority s h o u l d die. The only way to protect the minority gay community is if they do it themselves, and make themselves independent from the gay middle class community as soon as possible for their own sake.

    • James R. Martin June 12, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Tony says: "The gay white community is extraordinarily racist".

      This statement seems to imply that the gay white "community" is more racist than other groups of people, e.g., the straight white "community" or the typical average American "community" — or even "the gay community" generally. I wonder if this is so. I also doubt it — very much. I wonder what evidence such a statement might rely upon. And, again, I doubt it.

  5. Christopher Murray May 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Let's give some credit to the writer for speaking out, speaking honestly and with concern for himself and his community.

  6. Scott May 16, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I'm really surprised by this article.
    There have been numerous articles on TV and in newspapers, ads on Grindr and other social media sites, and articles in gay media. My doctor told me I should get the shot because of a communication he received from the health department. People are complaining that there are long lines at clinics to get the shot, so obviously the word is getting out.
    A friend told me that he was at Splash one night and the health department was there giving vaccines.
    I get that it's trendy to bash anything that smacks of a government agency, but what are the suggestions for better communication? An article that makes suggestions for improvement is more valuable than a big whine.

  7. MedicalTerminology September 16, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Health campaign is important Scott


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