Gay Men With HIV And Meningitis: Symptoms and Where to Vaccinate

Gay men with HIV in New York City are being warned of a meningitis outbreak. Here's what you need to know, and how to stop yourself from getting sick.

BY Michelle Garcia

November 07 2012 4:00 AM ET

The New York City Department of Health says that HIV-positive men who have had sexual contact with other men in the last two months are still at risk of getting infected with meningitis.

The disease is spread by prolonged close contact—like kissing or sex—as well as sharing eating utensils, a drinking glass, or a cigarette with another person infected with meningitis. The department warns that meningitis cannot be spread by simply breathing the same air as another person with the disease. However, people with HIV do have a greater risk of acquiring invasive meningococcal disease, which can become a fatal disease if not properly treated.

The department is calling on HIV-positive gay and bisexual men to get a meningitis vaccine. Even if you received a vaccine for college, you may need a booster shot, especially since there is not enough information to know how long the vaccine lasts among people with HIV.

It may take 7 to 10 days after getting the shot for the vaccine to become effective, but not everyone will develop protective levels of antibodies. If you are HIV-infected and you do receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, you should return to your health care provider eight weeks later for a second dose, according to the department of health.

If you're not sure whether you have meningitis, we found the most significant warning signs that you may have the disease from the Mayo Clinic and the NYC Department of Health. If you need to obtain a vaccination in New York, the department of health has identified facilities able to provide them.

Click through to understand the symptoms of meningitis...

Tags: Prevention

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