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In the six months since the Department of Health first issued a warning to the gay community in Brooklyn about a meningitis outbreak, the problem has only gotten worse and begun spreading to surrounding communities in other parts of New York. Consequently, the DOH’s recommendations have been altered as well. Now all gay men in New York City are being encouraged to come forward and get vaccinated, regardless of whether they’re promiscuous, married or have hooked up using gay social media sites such as Grindr in the last year or not.

According to The Huffington Post, officials have discovered at least five new cases since the start of 2013, and sadly, three of those men later died. Slowly, the word is being spread to the men who need to hear it, but unfortunately, the shouts have not traveled far enough or fast enough. As a result, gay men in New York are being encouraged to use social profiles to link to the government’s official website on the outbreak.

Part of the reason why AIDS spread so quickly is because people did not take the issue seriously after it was first uncovered. With decades of wisdom and experience from previous outbreaks under everyone’s belt, one would hope the experience with meningitis will be different, but until community members get out and get themselves vaccinated, this problem will not go away. Whether gay or straight, we all need to stand together because our lives are all intertwined.

Pop Blend’s sincerest thoughts go out to the gay community of New York during this hour of need.