Monkey Pox – Delineating the Facts and Addressing the Fallacies

Monkey pox can potentially affect anyone, and removing stigmas is imperative for public health.

Health Sexual Health Triston Brewer

This article was published on June 8th, 2022

The world has only known about monkey pox outbreaks for only a few weeks, but already queer men are feeling the effects of the stigmas associated with the virus as it has come to be labeled in many circles as a gay disease. This miseducation is causing an uproar worldwide as people are blinded to the realities posed by the virus and increased efforts must be undertaken to ensure that communities receive the facts about monkey pox and how to notice the symptoms and treatment options. 

Monkey Pox Coverage So Far Has Been Problematic

The AIDS crisis occurred before social media, and it culminated in an extended period where misinformation early on led to chaos that could have easily been minimized with the proper fact checks in place. Fast forward to 2022 and monkey pox has been framed on social media networks as a concern for gay and bisexual men. This is the type of misinformation that led to outbreaks in the 80s that could have been maintained and a road no one wants to go down 40 years later. 

The truth is that monkey pox is spread not only by sexual activity, but by other types of close contact. The first outbreaks were identified in humans more than half a century ago and affected all types of people. According to studies, the monkey pox dilemma today must be handled in a more careful manner in order not to cause havoc throughout communities. Says Keletso Makofane, a researcher at Harvard University:

“This is a disease that can affect anyone, but currently seems to be affecting gay men. We need to talk about monkeypox in a way that can help us respond to it without causing further harm in a community that is already marginalized. We have to be able to attend to those with the highest risk and burden now, but we know that singling out gay men elicits homophobic responses.”

When the AIDS crisis first became a national issue, many people erroneously assumed it only affected gay and bisexual men, which factored into the unnecessary levels of suffering and death the world collectively experienced. This time around, people should be aware of how monkey pox is transmitted, who is at risk, and the proper channels for securing treatment options. 

How Monkey Pox Is Transmitted

Typically, humans catch the monkey pox virus from close contact with other animals or rodents. Human to human transmission can occur through bodily fluids, lesions, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials. Although monkey pox is not a sexually transmitted disease, it can be spread through sexual contact. One of the main reasons why misinformation has abounded recently is because of early reports of monkey pox outbreaks occurring at Pride festivals, raves, and gay saunas across Europe. The bottom line is that everyone should know an outbreak is currently in existence, and the virus can spread to anyone given the right conditions

Removing The Stigma Around Monkey Pox

People who feel stigmatized are less likely to report symptoms for fear of backlash, frustrating efforts to contact outbreaks and deliver proper care. Health care professionals must walk a fine line of alerting those at most risk now while avoiding stigmatization and efficiently communicating the situation could change at any time. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has announced efforts of targeted communication to gay communities to raise awareness about monkeypox risk and how to seek care ahead of Pride Month, which kicks off over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. 

The information contained in this article is for information only and is not medical advice. If you have questions about Monkey Pox, consult a medical professional or doctor. 

What are your questions about monkey pox, and will it affect your Pride plans this summer? Let HomoCulture know in the comments section below!

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