March #142 : Staph Memo - by Kellee Terrell

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues

Table of Contents

The Long Haul

Native Soul

The POZ Diabetes Diet Makeover

Quitting Time

Boosting Immunity

Caffeine Fix

Staph Memo

Same Sheets, Different Day

Consider the Alternative

Flunking Math

Test Drive

Stage Fright

The New 90210?

Post It!

Nobody’s Foo

Media Police

HIV 101

Boston Latex

Getting Graphic

Power Surge

Inside the Box

Diagnosis: Stigma


Mailbox-March 2008

Editor's Letter-March 2008

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

Scroll down to comment on this story.

email print

March 2008

Staph Memo

by Kellee Terrell

Obsessing over the latest “superbug”? Relax: You can keep your body clean of infection.

This past October, The Journal of the American Medical Association published an alarming study: MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus)—a staph infection resistant to such popular antibiotics as penicillin and amoxicillin—killed more than 18,000 Americans in 2005. Although most cases occurred in hospitals and nursing homes, the drug-resistant bacteria have also been showing up across the country, among athletes and in settings such as schools and gyms, causing numerous deaths.

MRSA is not new to the HIV community. Over the years, studies have warned that it affects positive people more often than negative and most commonly hits those with advanced HIV and lower CD4 counts. But don’t panic: MRSA is treatable with antibiotics. According to a 2005 study, taking HIV meds reduces your risk by 40 percent. But the most effective defense is to recognize and treat a staph infection early; the bug has lethal power when it spreads unchecked. 


It’s short for staph-ylococcus aureus,  a group of common bacteria. About 25 to 30 percent of people carry some form of staph—often inside the nose. Not all staph produces actual infections, which range from minor skin ailments like bumps or boils to more serious, invasive ones—pneumonia or bloodstream and surgical-wound infections. Normally, staph can be treated with a range of common antibiotics.

HA-MRSA (hospital-associated MRSA)
This is a resistant strain of staph that occurs in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. It’s hardier than nonresistant staph but can be treated with certain antibiotics.

CA-MRSA (community-associated MRSA)
It’s MRSA contracted outside hospital settings—often in crowded places like schools, gyms or prisons. CA-MRSA signs may include especially painful and persistent pimples, boils, red swollen skin and oozing sores or abscesses.        


All staph strains, whether drug-resistant or not, thrive in warm, moist places and spread through skin-to-skin contact (including sex). Staph infections are common among athletes who share equipment and get lots of scrapes and cuts.


  • Shower or bathe regularly; wear clean clothes.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap or alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • And don’t forget the moisturizer: Dry skin is prone to cracking, leaving you prone to infection.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and bandaged.
  • Don’t share towels or razors.
  • If you help someone dress a wound or sore, wear protective gloves.
  • At the gym, wipe off fitness machines before and after use, cover mats with clean towels, and shower immediately after working out.
  • Don’t drain or squeeze sores or serious pimples yourself. If they harbor staph, you’ll just be spreading it.
  • And finally, the ick factor: Don’t pick your nose.


  • If you have a boil, sore or similar infection,  ask your doctor to culture it. The results will indicate whether you need antibiotics for ordinary staph or for MRSA.
  • If your doctor prescribes antibio-tics, make sure they can be taken in conjunction with your HIV meds. And also make sure you finish the entire prescription of antibiotics as directed—even if you begin feeling better—to avoid playing host to a staph comeback.    

Scroll down to comment on this story.


(will display; 2-50 characters)


(will NOT display)


(will display; optional)

Comment (500 characters left):

(Note: The POZ team reviews all comments before they are posted. Please do not include either ":" or "@" in your comment. The opinions expressed by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong, which is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by people providing comments.)

Comments require captcha.
Please enter this number for verification:

| Posting Rules

Show comments (0 total)

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Has a pet helped you deal with your HIV?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.