Academic literature has recorded increased microbial resistance in the United States and recent news media has adversely portrayed men who have sex with men (MSM) at increased risk for community associated methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) transmission. CA-MRSA is a specific type of bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics, which limits treatment options for those needing clinical care. Infection can manifest as painful abscesses and can cause severe illness. With increased CA-MRSA infections overall, and attention given to MSM populations regarding CA-MRSA, as well as the fact that limited data on sociocultural factors that may facilitate transmission, we undertook a qualitative study to explore contextual influences that may fuel infection among MSM in New York City so that public health professionals can better recognize, and respond appropriately to, potential future outbreaks. In-depth interviews were used to qualitatively investigate perceptions and beliefs regarding transmission, as well as community understandings of treatment options. Participants included thirteen MSM who reported a previous CA-MRSA infection and nine community practitioners. A thematic content analysis of these interviews was conducted and data suggests that behaviors and exposures associated with transmission of CA-MRSA are common in certain MSM networks. Specifically, sociocultural influences and methamphetamine use activities were found to contribute to CA-MRSA transmission. We underscore the role of public health and health services practitioners in providing appropriate CA-MRSA awareness and education to MSM populations.
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