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Gay disease

The controversial term 'gay disease' has sometimes been used to describe an illness or syndrome, normally sexual, which first appears to present itself to physicians primarily among homosexual patients. The phrase has occasionally been used by doctors since the 1970s but carries no specific medical meaning and is not an officially recognised term.

When AIDS first appeared in the 1970s, baffled epidemiologists sometimes described the collective symptoms they were seeing as the gay disease or gay cancer prior to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention naming the syndrome Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID), a name which was later replaced with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Gay bowel syndrome was a term first used in 1976, prior to the discovery of AIDS, to describe a series of parasitic disorders caused by oral/anal contact and allegedly related to gay male sexual activity. The term was abandonend by the medical community in the 1980s, dismissed as the result of ill-informed bigotry[?]. The medical problems attributed to gay bowel syndrome were neither specific to homosexuals nor confined to the bowel, and fail to meet the medical definition of a syndrome[?]. Despite this, the term continues to see widespread use from certain elements in the anti-gay lobby.

Similarly, a 2003 cluster of cases of MRSA-related skin infection found in gay men, schools, and prisons was initially labeled in press reports as a gay disease. In fact, there is no correlation between sexual orientation and MRSA infection or colonization: this was sensationalistic reporting seized upon by those with anti-gay agendas.

Depending upon the context, the term is sometimes not meant to imply that sexual orientation in itself causes a disease, but merely that a disease has presented itself in a new or unique way through the gay population. This selective presentation can be due to behavioral factors unique or common to homosexuals.

However, many gay advocates object to the labeling of any medical condition as being gay specific because of its implicit assumptions. In fact, the term gay disease is frequently used by religious objectors to homosexuality, who feel that homosexuals are deserving of punishment or divine retribution. It is worth noting that lesbians are less at risk of exposure to sexual disease than many other groups. The term is also used by other homosexual objectors, particularly individuals and groups within the medical community, who see it as evidence that the 'gay lifestyle' is inherently unhealthy or dangerous.

In an unrelated usage, the gay disease is sometimes used sarcastically to refer to homosexuality itself.

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