Several Department of Health (DoH) in the USA and Europe recommend that men who have sex with men should educate themselves on the risks associated with bacterial meningitis .
Lisa Power, Policy Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Doctors have recently reported small clusters of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) (serotype C) among gay men in New York, Berlin and Paris. This is a type of meningitis. There have been a small number of deaths in those cities, particularly in men with HIV, and we are aware that news of this is spreading via social media and word of mouth.
“IMD type C is very rare in the UK, with around 30 cases a year overall. The UK has a vaccination programme which means that most men aged 35 and under will already have been vaccinated, and the vaccine is available free on the NHS to anyone under 25. An outbreak in London, or anywhere else in the UK, is therefore considered much less likely, but gay men who are concerned about the news can download an app about symptoms from the Meningitis Trust. All HIV and sexual health clinicians have had a briefing from Public Health England giving the facts.
“Realistically, if you’re out there partying this summer, you’re much more at risk of HIV, Hepatitis C, gonorrhoea or sunstroke. Take your suncream, condoms, and HIV treatment if you’re positive, and stay informed.”
Public Health England has released a report into the clusters, including advice for clinicians, at www.hpa.org.uk/hpr/news/default.htm#imdmsm. The Meningitis Trust carries information about bacterial meningitis at www.meningitis-trust.org.