LOS ANGELES (April 17, 2013)—AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) released the following statement in response to a press conference given today by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department and its Director, Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH.
“While AHF applauds the County for offering the vaccine to low-income and uninsured residents, we are disappointed that the LA County Public Health Department is not urging people to get vaccinated. We believe it shows an insensitivity to the population involved and to the understandable concerns they have,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “How many deaths will there need to be before the County will acknowledge these incidences as an outbreak? The County has known since December and has done nothing to alert the community. The fact that these cases have been shown to be linked to the outbreak in New York should have set off alarm bells, but the LA County Public Health Department remains indifferent.”
There were 12 cases of meningococcal meningitis reported in Los Angeles County in 2012 and 9 have been reported in 2013. Since November 2012, there have been 4 infections among gay men (or men who have sex with men), 2 of which have resulted in death. The strain that 3 out of the 4 cases among gay men in Los Angeles County carried has an 85% overlap or similarity to the strain of meningococcal meningitis that infected 13 gay men and killed 7 gay men over the past 2 years in New York, as confirmed by LA County Public Health Department Director Jonathan Fielding at a press conference today. Analysis on the fourth case is still pending.
Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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