AIDS echoes in monkeypox message worries LGBTQ health advocates

Survivors of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s fear that efforts to combat monkeypox outbreaks will unnecessarily blame the LGBTQ+ community, which already bears the brunt of the virus.

So far, men who have sex with other men are the most affected by monkeypox, but LGBTQ+ health advocates say inappropriate messaging sees monkeypox as a “gay disease” and effective It says it risks undermining precautions and allowing the virus to spread. Reports that phlebotomists at LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, two of his two largest medical testing companies in the United States, refused to draw blood from patients suspected of having monkeypox show that the stigma is already entrenched. Yes, warns medical experts.

“When the HIV epidemic first broke out in the 80s, governments were slow to respond because there were so many people infected, and it happened again. 41 years later, what have we learned? ?” said Vince Crisostomo, Director of Aging Services at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, who is also a long-term HIV/AIDS survivor. “We just went through the second pandemic of our lives, Covid, and jumped right into this and found the same kind of strange message? There is a big disconnect.

“This really triggered my post-traumatic stress because, in addition to my own experiences, I had to deal with people serving in my community and I felt the same. Because I hear it a lot.”

As of August 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 30,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, with nearly 9,000 reported in the United States. Monkeypox is transmitted primarily through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact. However, treating monkeypox as a sexually transmitted disease leads to stigma that hinders efforts to contain the virus.

“There is absolutely no way to be honest about what monkeypox is, but at the same time be honest about which communities are currently affected by it without harming those communities,” Human Rights Campaign Torian said. L Baskerville said.

message with stigma

An effective message about monkeypox would acknowledge that men who have sex with other men bear the brunt of the epidemic, allowing other groups to properly assess the risks, advocates say. Stated.

To the dismay of LGBTQ+ public health advocates, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing on July 27 that men who have sex with men should have fewer sexual partners and new partners. I advised him to reconsider his sex.

“How do you get unbiased information out there? It’s hard because it’s already started with stigma,” said Paul, who is also a long-term HIV/AIDS survivor and chair of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club’s HIV Caucus. Aguilar said.

“When the national news talks about men having sex with men, that’s all they’re talking about, but they’re adding the last part and saying that anyone can get it.” It shouldn’t be a lead.”

The message of temperance had a disturbing echo in the response to AIDS directed at community advocates decades ago.

“I was very disappointed to see the WHO statement, as in 2022 they still don’t seem to know that abstinence-based programs were ineffective against HIV and pregnancy.” Provider, Whitman Walker Health, DC and Vice President of Education for GLMA Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality.

Doctors work on approaches

An LGBTQ+ public health advocate said some patients believed to have monkeypox had reported cases in which laboratory workers refused treatment.

Medical professionals also appear to be struggling to improve patient messaging and care, said Garfield Clooney, president of the American Medical Association.

“Because not every disease has a phenotype or appearance, we take universal precautions with every patient that walks through your door, so treat everyone exactly the same.” You can’t treat someone differently because of their sexual orientation, race, gender, or any other reason,” Clooney said.

“It’s part of our vow, and I don’t know why it’s done, but people have certain prejudices within themselves, whether implicit or explicit. Some people try to draw conclusions about certain things that they believe to be true, which may lead them to behave in certain ways towards certain people, but that is not true. “

Clunie added that he is committed to educating members of the association to improve the medical community’s knowledge of monkeypox.

Fear of messages about monkeypox will discourage the most at-risk groups from protecting themselves or seeking treatment. The Human Rights Campaign has published information on its website and social media about what monkeypox is and what it is not to dispel some of the misinformation currently circulating.

“What we have done is what we have always had to do as a community, what LGBTQ and often marginalized communities have had to do for themselves. , providing the resources we and the community need,” says Baskerville. He said.

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