Is the LA County Department of Public Health homophobic?

April 15, 2014

By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California

The founder and president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Michael Weinstein, yesterday accused LA County Public Health of institutional homophobia over the mishandling of the recent meningitis “cluster” in West Hollywood and North Hollywood.

Early this month the LA County Department of Public Health changed their recommendations on gay men, men who have sex with men and those with HIV/AIDS getting meningitis vaccines.

No mention was made in the press release of the three deaths, all of gay men living in or playing in West Hollywood.

The situation brought back memories of last year’s meningitis event in which Brett Schaad, a popular resident, died suddenly. Only then did the Department inform public health advocates that they had begun asking about people’s sexual orientation during meningitis investigations in November of 2012.

The Department also dug in heels as requests for vaccinations flooded their office, compelling AHF, the Gay & Lesbian Center and the City of West Hollywood to ensure that gay men could be vaccinated without charge.

Unhappy with what they consider to be a double standard for gay and straight public health care, AHF bought a full page in Frontiers Magazine to display this call to action.

homophobia in la county health department