Monkeypox Is Spreading In LGBTQ Community, Experts Warn

Monkeypox virus molecule is seen in a graphic illustration
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News & Politics
Damir Mujezinovic

In recent months, the infectious viral disease monkeypox has spread across multiple continents, with cases soaring in dozens of countries around the world.

The number of infections in the United States is approaching 2,000, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public health experts are now warning the disease is spreading among the LGBTQ community.

Gay And Bi Men Most Affected

As reported by CNN, U.S. public health officials said Monday that although anyone can get monkeypox, for now, the virus is mostly spreading among gay and bisexual men.

Most of these men reported at least "some level" of sexual activity. However, that does not mean monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease.

Monkeypox appears to spread mainly through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, with symptoms usually starting within three weeks of exposure.

The virus typically triggers a rash and results in fever.

Prolonged Contact

Monkeypox blisters
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As Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, explained, it is clear that monkeypox spreads through sexual activity, despite not actually being a sexually transmitted disease.

"Some people have had the rash all over their body or different parts of their body, but there are many who are presenting with the genital and anal lesions as their first indication of illness. That sort of speaks for that close prolonged contact," Daskalakis said, noting that the virus does not seem to be spreading via respiratory droplets.

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According to the CDC, gay and bi men are at risk of catching monkeypox in saunas, sex clubs, at sex parties, or any similar place where there is typically contact with multiple partners.

"Socializing is a part of what [LGBTQ people] do. So I don't think that it's something that we stop," Daskalakis said, noting that places such s gay bars are still safe.

"It's just sort of important to have awareness how monkeypox transmits and you're aware of your own risk and how to mitigate that risk," he added.

WHO Guidance

World Health Organization building
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The World Health Organization (WHO) recently pointed out that "it is important to note that the risk of monkeypox is not limited to men who have sex with men," but warned that "the virus is being identified in these communities."

According to the WHO, people who suspect they have monkeypox should isolate at home and contact a health worker, avoid close contact with others, clean objects and surfaces they touch, and wear a protective face mask.

"Stigmatizing people because of a disease is never ok. Anyone can get or pass on monkeypox, regardless of their sexuality," the organization stressed.