Philadelphia Blacks at Higher Risk of Monkeypox, But Vaccine Dose Negligible

Black Philadelphians account for more than half of Philadelphia’s monkeypox cases, data released Thursday That’s less than a quarter of the city’s vaccination dose of what it showed, a staggering disparity in the midst of a rapidly spreading virus.

Despite outreach to the black community, city health officials admitted they were unable to reach the population, which accounts for 55% of the city’s 203 reported cases.

“I hate to say something went wrong, but these numbers are not what we want,” said city health commissioner Cheryl Bettygall.

Low vaccination coverage can be attributed to factors such as fear of stigmatization among the black LGBTQ community, poor access to vaccines, and mistrust and skepticism of health care systems, with more It hampered efforts to persuade black Philadelphia citizens to receive full vaccinations. Against COVID-19.

“The fact that they made [monkeypox] Jazmyn Henderson, an activist for ACT UP, an advocacy group for HIV and AIDS, said: “People know it’s not an STI[sexually transmitted disease].”

Sex has proven to be the most common way the virus is transmitted, so health officials are focusing on men who have had sexual contact with multiple or anonymous male partners. Although more rare, monkeypox can be spread through any kind of prolonged contact with painful rashes or lesions that monkeypox can cause.

» Read more: Philadelphia’s LGBTQ network rushes monkeypox information and services amid slow public health response

Data released Thursday by the Philadelphia Public Health Department provided the first detailed look at who in the city has contracted monkeypox and who has been vaccinated. Data show that 93% of his cases are reported in men. Three-quarters of those infected were people between the ages of 20 and 39. But racial disparity is the metric of most concern.

White Philadelphians account for 27% of cases but are 57% vaccinated, essentially the opposite of black infection and vaccination rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported similar national trends. Twenty-six percent of monkeypox cases are reported among black Americans, who make up less than 14% of the U.S. population. In New Jersey, black residents received 13% of vaccinations but reported 20% of cases, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. Caucasian residents, who had only a quarter of the state’s cases, received 41% of the vaccinations. Latinos in New Jersey accounted for 35% of cases and received 23% of vaccinations. Pennsylvania has yet to release demographic data on cases and vaccinations, the state health department said.

Caucasian residents of cities such as Chicago, Washington, D.C., are also largely vaccinated, Bloomberg reports.

In Philadelphia, so far, vaccines have been provided primarily through the city’s monkeypox hotline and to patients at several LGBTQ clinics, who have managed to find dosages in an overwhelmed system. It works in the favor of people.

Sultan Safir, president of the Mazzoni Center, an LGBTQ-focused health center, says it takes many hours of the day to confirm vaccine appointments.

“The system is more flexible and has a lot of features built in to make it accessible to people with more time on their hands,” he said.

Bettygor said the city would like to work with businesses such as two of the city’s public baths, pharmacies and health centers to host vaccination clinics. But they need money, she said, and the federal declaration that monkeypox is a health emergency does not mean additional funding, she explained.

» Read more: Monkeypox vaccine finally available for sex workers in Philadelphia

The city is struggling to get enough vaccine for the estimated 12,000 people who are considered at high risk of contracting monkeypox. The federal government announced Thursday that 1.8 million doses of the vaccine JYNNEOS will be available for order by Monday.

Unique Green, 43, lives in Reading and recently recovered from a monkeypox infection he may have contracted in a gay bathhouse in Philadelphia. He said he didn’t try to be vaccinated because he didn’t have the vaccine. This is an attitude shared by many others.

“It’s very painful,” said Green, a gay black man who had encouraged a friend to get vaccinated. “I can only tell them about it and warn them.”

Similar to COVID, distrust of health care providers and governments has made some black residents wary of seeking vaccines. Some additional discrimination makes the situation even worse.

Henderson, who is a transgender black woman, said black men who have sex with men may still perceive themselves as heterosexual.

“Anything that identifies as gay or transgender is highly stigmatized,” she said. “I didn’t realize how stigmatized trans women were until I became a trans woman myself,” she said.

Henderson urged public health officials to stop highlighting that monkeypox is a virus that primarily afflicts gay men for this reason, she said. I felt it would discourage transgender black men from seeking vaccines. .

“If someone knows you and knows where you hang out, that business will be everywhere,” she said.

Health officials admit their confusion. Vaccines are only available for people considered to be at high risk. In Philadelphia, this includes men over the age of 18, some transgender and nonbinary people, and sex his workers who have recently had sexual intercourse with other men multiple times or anonymously. But these categories can alienate people who should be vaccinated.

“This is very much a work in progress,” said Bettigole. “We are talking to community groups and community activists about this to learn how best to frame things.”

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