‘Talk about it’: Sydney man opens up about getting monkeypox

jack barlow sydney monkeypox diagnosis
Image: Instagram

A gay Sydney man who contracted monkeypox while on holiday in the US has gone public in a bid to help break the stigma around the virus.

Jack Barlow is one of around 124 Australians to have contracted monkeypox since May, as cases of the rare virus increase in over 90 non-endemic countries.

“There’s stories of people getting it at large parties or festivals. I actually caught it off just a single holiday fling in Provincetown in Massachusetts,” he told The Project.

“Just something any normal 26 year old will do overseas. It was actually on the same day some of my symptoms began.”

Jack recalled after he was diagnosed, “A huge amount of kind of anxiety washes over you.

“I’d just got back [to Australia], I’d seen some of my friends. What if I’ve accidentally given it to them?”

According to NSW Health, monkeypox symptoms may include rashes, pimple-like lesions or sores, particularly in areas that are hard to see such as the genitals, anus or buttocks, and on the face, arms and legs, as well as ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth.

People can also experience fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue prior to the rash or lesions developing.

In most people, monkeypox resolves on its own without needing treatment. However some are at higher risk of serious illness, including the immunosuppressed and people living with HIV.

For many who have caught the virus, they’ve reported excruciating pain from their symptoms.

Luckily, Jack told The Project his symptoms were considerably milder. The man stayed in isolation for three weeks to ensure he couldn’t pass it on to anyone else.

Monkeypox mainly spreads from one person to another by direct skin-to-skin contact.

It may be spread by breathing in droplets breathed out by someone who has monkeypox during prolonged close contact, but this is rare, NSW Health advises.

It can also be spread through contact with bodily fluids or contaminated objects, such as bedding or clothes.

Jack Barlow announces monkeypox in hilarious TikTok

During his isolation, the 26-year-old decided to make light of the situation and take to TikTok dressed as ex-Premier Gladys Berejiklian to share the news.

“I could’ve felt miserable about myself or I could do something about it, that’s how I think about it,” he said.

“I came out on TikTok as Gladys to do a morning presser… I’ve never needed an excuse to dress up as Gladys.”

In the light-hearted video, Jack wears a black wig and announces the new monkeypox case is a “handsome, ginger gay man who returned from the United States”.

“I would like to further announce that the positive case was me,” he said.

“As a result of this, it breaks my heart to say it, I will have no choice but to enforce a strict 21-day lockdown.”

Jack was one of few Australians to speak out about contracting monkeypox and said while the isolation “hasn’t done wonders for my love life” he wanted to bust myths, stigma and misinformation around it.

He said he hopes as few people get the virus as possible and that by sharing his story “hopefully we can break the stigma and people can talk about it.”

@jackbarlow96 Good morning everybody. Gladys had to come back to make a special announcement about #monkeypox #gladys #gladysberejiklian #auspol #sydney #fyp #fypシ ♬ original sound – Jack Barlow

@jackbarlow96 ♬ original sound – Jack Barlow

Australia to receive more supplies of vaccines later this month

As of September 1, there have been 124 cases of monkeypox in Australia, including 64 in Victoria, 48 in New South Wales, 5 in Western Australia, 3 in Queensland, 2 in the Australian Capital Territory, and 2 in South Australia.

While many cases have been returned travellers from overseas, Victorian health authorities last month reported a jump in locally-transmitted cases in that state.

Last month, the federal government announced it had procured 450,000 vaccines. An initial batch of only 22,000 arrived last month, with states and territories distributing them to at-risk groups.

However supplies have been scarce, as health authorities expect more doses to arrive in late September.

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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