City A Seattle Patient Zero? Four Linked Cases of Drug-Resistant HIV Reported Here
posted by February 1 at 11:00 AMon
We’d heard rumors of this, and now the local health department confirms it:
Four King County men have tested positive for similar HIV viruses that are highly resistant to several antiretroviral drug classes. One of the men was tested in late 2005, and the other three were tested in 2006. Last month researchers identified a likely link between all four cases.
Translation: Seattle may have a patient zero, a gay man who contracted a multi-drug-resistant strain of HIV and spread it to other local men.
Public Health is working with the four patients and health care providers to locate and test their sexual partners for HIV infection and drug resistance.
Translation: The number four may be just a starting point, although so far the health department hasn’t found any other cases.
In the current cluster, all four were men who had sex with men; all had a history of methamphetamine use, and had multiple, mostly anonymous, sexual partners. The partners who have been found to date either were not HIV-infected or their HIV infection was not related to the current drug resistant strain.
Attention gay men: Read Christopher Frizzelle’s 2006 story on Club Z and crystal meth. Read my 2003 story on the “Immoral Minority” of gay men in Seattle who disproportionately contribute to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the local gay community (a group it sounds like this cluster was a part of). Read my interview with Peter Staley from The Stranger’s 2005 Queer Issue, in which he says:
I firmly believe that if it weren’t for crystal meth we would be experiencing a decline of newly HIV-infected gay men every year.
Here’s what the health department recommends gay men do with the news of this local drug-resistant HIV strain:
Public Health recommends testing every three months for those gay and bisexually active men who use methamphetamines, have a recent history of sexually transmitted diseases, or have had unprotected anal sex with an HIV-positive man or a man whose HIV status is unknown. Other persons at high risk should test at least yearly.
Here’s what The Stranger recommends: Don’t use crystal meth in the first place, don’t have unprotected sex with meth heads — duh — and tell your friends that there’s now one more compelling reason (as if you needed one more compelling reason) not to bareback with people whose HIV status you don’t know.