Talk about the dog that didn't bark.
After a deadly outbreak of meningococcal meningitis among gay men in New York the city's health department recommended through a press release vaccinations "for men, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men met through a website, digital application ('App'), or at a bar or party."
Curiously absent in the laundry list of meeting places through which gay men apparently may hook up or otherwise engage in "intimate contact" were reputed bathhouses or other social clubs including the East Side Club and the West Side Club. There is no evidence that any meningitis cases originated at these establishments, and perhaps there is no risk of an unfortunate case breaking out at such clubs. Accordingly, the health department may have appropriately omitted men who attend them from its advisory. However, given online reviews by some individuals it sounds as if "intimate contact" sometimes may occur at these places -- at least in past history -- which suggests that the health department's vaccination recommendation should be expressly expanded to include gay men who frequent the so-called baths just like any other meeting place.
The omission of the supposed bathhouses in the city's advisory is inexplicable given that health providers otherwise are aware of their existence.
Dr. Demetre C. Daskalakis, a professor at New York University's School of Medicine, "has been conducting HIV research in two Manhattan bathhouses—the East Side Club and the West Side Club—since 2006" as reported by a Jan 22. 2008 article ("Researchers Support NYC Bathhouse Regulation") for POZ Magazine: "so far, he has tested about 1,000 MSMs [men who have sex with men] for HIV and other STDs and has referred those in need of health care to Bellevue Hospital, which is funding his studies." A July 2, 2009 article ("HIV Testing in NYC Bathhouses") by Kristina Fiore for MedPage Today states:
As the number of HIV cases in the U.S. soars -- especially among gay and black men, and particularly in New York City -- one physician is going where few have gone before in terms of prevention efforts: straight to the late-night gay scene. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis runs the first-ever HIV testing venue at a New York bathhouse in Chelsea. * * * Daskalakis can find no better place to do his work. Today, some men come to the club just for the free test, not the sex. That, Daskalakis says, makes keeping the clinic door open into the wee hours of a Manhattan weekend morning worth it.
Frankly, if the health department wanted to take a practical step, it would provide funding for Dr. Daskalakis to test for and administer vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis during his clinic visits to the private clubs. However, at this point city officials won't even mention them in a freakin' press release.
Maybe it will be deja vu all over again: silence = death.