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Another Death of an L.A. Gay Man Tied to Meningitis

WeHo News is reporting that another gay men in the Los Angeles area recently died of bacterial meningitis, heightening concerns that the widely publicized death of West Hollywood resident and gay man Brett Shaad is not an isolated incident.

Downtown Los Angeles resident and gay man Rjay Spoon died from bacterial meningitis on December 16, 2012, according to WeHo News. He was only 30 years old. Spoon would have turned 31 on April 27.

Casey Hayden, Spoon's boyfriend at the time of the death, wrote on Facebook: "If anyone has any information as to where he could have been exposed, the [L.A. County] health department needs to know to help with this case. And again thank you all so much for everything. I know your hearts are hurting too over the loss of our beautiful, sexy man who is now our angel."

In a December 30, 2012, Reno Gazette-Journal obituary, Spoon was described as a "gifted vocalist and pianist and touched many lives with his music and exuberant love of life and gift of laughter."

Spoon was born in Portland, Oregon and moved to Reno with his family at the age of 4, the obituary states. Similar to Brett Shaad, Spoon was a high achiever with a bright future ahead of him.

Spoon was student body president at Wooster High School and active in the music and drama departments there. He then attended the University of Nevada studying art and film. After living in Seattle, he moved to Los Angeles where he became a leasing manager in luxury properties in the Los Angeles financial district, the obituary states.

Spoon was survived by his mother and father, one sister, and three brothers.

West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, who's been under fire for his handling of the Brett Shaad tragedy, received the news about Spoon's meningitis death from a constituent. Duran then passed along the information to WeHo News, editor Ryan Gierach tells L.A. Weekly.

Some in the gay community believe it would be wise for Duran to keep himself, and all the controversy that continues to surround him, out of the newest development of meningitis among gay men in L.A. so focus can be placed squarely on life-or-death public health issues with no distractions.

Gierach attended a press conference last week about the Brett Shaad case, which was held by Dr. Maxine Liggins of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Gierach says Liggins never discussed the Spoon case with reporters.

Liggins also did not reveal how many of the 13 meningitis cases that were reported in L.A. County last year involved gay men, according to Gierach.

It brings up a question of just how thoroughly L.A. County Public Health has been investigating Spoon's case. The highly publicized Shaad tragedy was a golden opportunity for Liggins to ask for help with the Spoon investigation.

So far, L.A. County public health officials have not made a push to vaccinate gay men, AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein tells the Weekly. AIDS Healthcare Foundation, however, is providing free meningitis vaccinations at its Hollywood and West Hollywood pharmacies.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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