‘We had to fight for ourselves’: With monkeypox, San Diego’s LGBTQ community puts decades-old lessons to work

The outbreak has fueled familiar frustrations with health authorities, especially for gay men who lived through the worst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Four decades after a very different health crisis put a spotlight on the gay community, some San Diegans feel as though they’ve been time-warped back to the 1980s. They’re also calling on the support networks they have built since.
“Monkeypox has certainly transported me back to a time where I was scared for my life — not only because of AIDS, but because of the stigmas that came with it,” said Craig Bertrand.
Forty years ago, Bertrand was only 23 when his partner died of AIDS, just one year after the disease had been labeled a “gay-related immune deficiency.”
The monkeypox virus is very different from HIV: It is transmitted by physical contact, not sex. It is rarely fatal, unlike AIDS in its early days. And there is a vaccine to protect against it.
But with monkeypox spreading so far mostly among gay and bisexual men, the fears and stigmas associated with it have echoed the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. And for many who survived that crisis, the key differences between the viruses have made the public-health missteps this time all the more disappointing.
Last month, county health officials announced they’d be prioritizing the monkeypox vaccine for gay and bisexual men and for transgender people just days before Pride, renewing frustrations among local LGBTQ leaders cognizant of the stigmas their communities can face from such messaging.


YOUTUBE VIDEO: SF Officials, LGBTQ Community Demand More Action to Combat Monkeypox Outbreak
In the month since, more than 100 confirmed or probable cases of monkeypox have been reported in San Diego County, bringing the total to at least 134 as of Friday, most of them among gay and bisexual men, according to county health data. The state has declared a state of emergency over the outbreak, as have the county and the nation.

Source: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/local/story/2022-08-13/lgbtq-community-fights-monkeypox-stigma

By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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