Whitman-Walker Expands Meningitis Response

Due to growing demand, health center now offering meningitis vaccinations to non-patients

Whitman-Walker Health, the nonprofit community health center that specializes in HIV/AIDS and LGBT-competent care, announced Tuesday it will be offering meningitis vaccinations to people who are not current patients due to increased demand.

Although there have been no reported cases of meningitis in the gay male community in D.C., reports of deaths of gay men in New York and Los Angeles have raised concerns among gay men in Washington.

Chip Lewis, a spokesman for Whitman-Walker, says the cost of vaccination is $150 per shot. People who are HIV-negative will need one shot; and people who are HIV-positive will need two shots, eight weeks apart.

Lewis also reiterated that there have been no reported cases of meningitis in the District, but said that Whitman-Walker recommends the vaccine for gay men who are sexually active with multiple partners or who travel frequently.

Meningitis is transmitted through exposure to an infected person’s oral fluids, whether through kissing, coughing, sneezing or sharing utensils and drinking glasses. Symptoms of meningitis include sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck, and are usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and confusion, and develop within three to seven days after exposure. If caught early, meningitis can usually be successfully treated with antibiotics.

For more information, call Whitman-Walker Health at 202-745-7000 or visit whitman-walker.org.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com