Monkeypox: What the LGBTQ needs to know says experts

Since early May, more than 23,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported worldwide. This is the largest ever global outbreak of the disease.
Cases have now been reported in 78 countries including the UK, Spain, Germany, France, the US and Brazil. Given the scale of the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared the current monkeypox epidemic a global health emergency.
While anyone can get monkeypox, the current outbreak is overwhelmingly affecting sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. In fact, our recent study which looked at 528 monkeypox infections since the start of the outbreak found that 98% of these infections had occurred in this group. Here’s what these men need to know.

How it spreads

Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the human monkeypox virus, which comes from the same virus family as smallpox. In fact, symptoms are quite similar to smallpox and include fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, cold symptoms (such as a cough or sore throat).
Symptoms are also accompanied by a rash that appears in blisters on the face, genitals, the chest and back, and on the hands and feet. Some people also experience very painful sores in the mouth or inside the bottom. For most people, the disease usually resolves within two to three weeks.
Monkeypox spreads through close physical contact with an infected person. Typically this means skin-to-skin contact, especially contact with the rashes and skin lesions caused by the disease. But it can also be spread through large respiratory droplets (such as coughing and sneezing).
It can also spread through contact with bed sheets, towels or other fabrics that have come in contact with the infected person’s sores. We know that the virus can persist on surfaces for a long time – sometimes up to several weeks.
According to our study, 95% of monkeypox infections so far were spread as a result of sexual contact. Around 95% of the people in our study had a rash, mostly occurring on the genitals. Approximately 41% had sores inside the body (including in the anus or mouth).
Our research also revealed that the monkeypox virus was found in more than 90% of the semen samples we tested. However, we don’t yet know whether the virus is infectious in semen.
All this may explain why the virus is primarily spreading through networks of men who have sex with men.
It’s worth stressing the virus can spread through any contact with lesions or large respiratory droplets from an infected person. This means that it can spread in households through any close personal contact with an infected person – not just as a result of sexual intimacy. However, during the current outbreak, our study suggests that this kind of non-sexual transmission has so far occurred very rarely, in less than 1% of cases.


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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