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GMHC Board Member, Demetre Daskalakis, MD Coordinates Meningitis Vaccine Efforts with the NYS Department of Health

Daniel Nardicio, Nightlife Promoter, OraQuick HIV At Home Test, in Association with the Pines Care Center, Present Fire Island Pines Wellness Day – August 10 and 11
8.7.2013

Fire Island, NY—Daniel Nardicio, nightlife promoter, OraQuick HIV At Home Test, in association with the Pines Care Center, present “Fire Island Pines Wellness Day” on Saturday, August 10 and in Cherry Grove on Sunday, August 11.  Physicians and nurses will be on hand to discuss and administer 700 free meningitis vaccines which were funded by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and provided by the HIV/AIDS Services at Mount Sinai Hospital.  There will also be free HIV testing.  GMHC staff will also be providing HIV prevention and testing materials.

“Fire Island, known as a playground for gay men, just seems like the perfect place to implement these vaccines,” said Daniel Nardicio.  “That's why I put this weekend together.  I am thrilled to be joining the Pines Care Center, OraQuick, Mount Sinai Hospital, GMHC, and other supporters, in this activation.”

In the past year, there has been an increase in the cases of meningitis among gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City.  The majority of cases reported are from men who had intimate contact with another man they met on a digital application or website. The increase of cases has underscored the need for expanded access to vaccines and outreach for those most impacted.
 
“It is important for at-risk men to be vaccinated to avoid this preventable but severe infection," said Dan O'Connell, Acting Director, AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health. "By ensuring men have ready access to the vaccine, this program plays a key role in prevention efforts.”
 
Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges).  Symptoms include:  fever and chills, mental status changes, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, severe headache, and stiff neck.  It is a serious disease that can result in permanent brain damage or death.
 
Regarding who should receive the vaccine during this outbreak, any gay man or MSM who is at least 18 years of age, regardless of HIV status, and has had intimate contact with a man they met through a website (Manhunt, Adam 4 Adam, etc.), digital application (GRINDR, SCRUFF, etc.), a bar, or a party since September 1, 2012 or plan on having such contact in the future.
 
"I am proud that we are helping with the Pines Wellness Day," said Myron Sulzberger Rolfe, Chair of GMHC’s Board of Directors. "GMHC has had an extensive history with the Fire Island community, starting from the beginning of the epidemic.  Last year, when GMHC was first notified of the meningitis outbreak among gay men, our staff immediately alerted our constituents through social media networks and by distributing flyers.  Two of our board members stepped up to lead our vaccine efforts – and we are grateful to them – especially to Dr. Demetre Daskalakis.“
 
Demetre Daskalakis, MD MPH serves as the Medical Director of the HIV/AIDS Services at Mount Sinai Hospital and is the Founding Director of the Men's Sexual Health Project (M*SHP).  Dr. Daskalakis initially arranged for the doses of the vaccine for free from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and continues to administer vaccinations at GMHC’s Testing Center in Chelsea, administering over 2,000 vaccinations between March and July, thus far.  Dr. Daskalakis worked with the NYS DOH to secure the vaccines for this weekend and will help with administering them as well.
 
Dr. Daskalakis commented: "Given the need to address this potentially lethal infection that could impact Fire Island by those traveling to and from this community, I am grateful for the support provided by NYS DOH and Mount Sinai Hospital to make this vaccine available to individuals at risk in two Fire Island venues so comfortable and familiar to this community of MSM." 
 
VACCINE INFORMATION 
Saturday, August 10
Pines Care Center at Whyte Hall
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 
Sunday, August 11
The Ice Palace, Cherry Grove
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 
Free vaccines will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
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