Find out what you need to know about monkeypox at free online forum


Monkeypox forum speakers: AFAO deputy CEO Heath Paynter and UNSW sexual health specialist Dr Vincent Cornelisse
Images: AFAO, Kirby Institute, Supplied

Australian gay and bisexual men are being urged to attend an online community forum on monkeypox next Monday, with Australia’s deputy chief medical officer and a leading sexual health specialist, for important information on the virus and staying safe.

Since the virus was first identified in Australia in May, the country has recorded 136 cases of monkeypox. Around the world more than 67,000 cases have been reported across 106 countries.

While monkeypox can affect anyone, cases are predominantly among gay and bisexual men. The virus can cause serious illness in some people.

In Australia, community-controlled HIV and LGBTIQ+ health organisations are leading efforts to stop the spread and protect the community.

The free forum, open to people nationwide, is on Monday evening (October 10) from 6.30pm and 8pm AEDT and will address community concerns as well as provide information about how to stay safe and get vaccinated.

The forum’s panel includes Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd, UNSW sexual health specialist Dr Vincent Cornelisse (above right) and AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) Acting Director of Sexual Health Matthew Vaughan.

Australian Federation of Aids Organisations (AFAO) Deputy CEO Heath Paynter (above left) will moderate the free online event.

Paynter said Monday evening’s forum is a great chance for gay and bisexual Australians to learn about monkeypox and what it means for them.

“This is an important opportunity to engage with leading health professionals who can help the community make informed decisions about staying safe,” he said.

“The forum will provide essential information about monkeypox and how it is affecting Australians.

“It will also discuss how the community can protect themselves, with a particular focus on vaccination, as well as address any community concerns and questions.”

The National Monkeypox Community Forum will be held on Monday October 10 between 6.30pm and 8pm AEDT (5:30pm and 7pm AEST). Register for the free event here.

At-risk Australians should get vaccinated against monkeypox

In Australia, health authorities have reported a decline in monkeypox cases. However experts stress the risk of a major outbreak remains until at-risk populations are vaccinated in the coming months.

Out of the 450,000 vaccine doses ordered by the federal government, only 22,000 have arrived so far. Tens of thousands more are expected in the coming weeks.

New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant this week said she is “cautiously optimistic” the outbreak was well-contained.

She attributed a drop in cases in her state to the response to the virus by gay and bisexual men, and the organisations and workers supporting them.

“We’ve got to use the vaccines that will be coming in greater quantities in the coming weeks to further reduce risk,” Dr Chant said.

78,000 more vaccine doses expected in coming weeks

AFAO’s Heath Paynter said until every eligible Australian had received two monkeypox vaccine doses, the risk of a major outbreak remains.

“We expect 78,000 [more doses] will arrive in the next month but we have no guarantee,” Paynter told The Guardian.

“We still have a massive vaccine shortage, and we’ve pretty much exhausted our supplies,” Paynter said.

“Australia has got a very big order of vaccines placed, but there’s no timeframe on when the next tranche is going to arrive.

“We need those vaccines as soon as possible as people are travelling, they will be travelling to hotspots, and the majority of those vaccinated in Australia have only had one dose.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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