London’s Guardian Examines Possible Transmission Route of Rare HIV Strain Detected in New York City Man
A New York City man with a highly drug-resistant strain of HIV might have contracted the virus in a bathhouse from two Connecticut men who have been treated for drug-resistant HIV by Dr. Gary Blick of Norwalk, Conn., London's Guardian reports (Honigsbaum, Guardian, 3/26). Officials from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Feb. 11 announced that they had detected the HIV strain, which is resistant to most antiretroviral drugs and possibly causes a rapid onset of AIDS. The city health department issued an alert to physicians, hospitals and medical providers asking them to test all HIV-positive patients for evidence of the strain. This combination of highly drug-resistant HIV and rapid progression to AIDS had not been identified before (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/1). New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden "has faced criticism for going public" about the case, and Blick "infuriated" public health officials last week when he issued a press release saying that a California laboratory had found a partial genetic match between the viruses detected in the New York man and one of Blick's clients, according to the Guardian. The two Connecticut men, who are partners, are suspected to have engaged in anal intercourse with the New York City man at one of the city's bath houses. According to the Guardian, the two men from Connecticut occasionally "binge[d]" on crystal methamphetamine, and the New York City man was a regular user. However, Blick's association between his patients and the New York man "are far from certain," the Guardian reports. "But whatever the truth, there is little doubt that Blick's tale is a further wake-up call for New Yorkers who ... had once again slipped into complacency about the risks of [HIV] transmission," according to the Guardian (Guardian, 3/26).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Monday reported on the association between methamphetamine use and unprotected sex and HIV transmission among MSM. The segment includes comments from Mary Ann Chiasson, vice president for research and evaluation at the Medical and Health Research Association of New York City; Marc Cohen, president of the Miami-based United Foundation for AIDS; David Domeco, business director for Club Body Center, a gay bathhouse in Miami; Joel Ginsberg, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association; Dr. Sabina Hirshfield, deputy director for research and evaluation at MHRA; Patrick Meahan, a U.S. attorney in Philadelphia; and several recovering methamphetamine users (Shapiro, "All Things Considered," NPR, 3/28). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.