United Nations, WHO condemn Monkeypox stigma

monkeypox UN WHO gay matthew kavanagh UNAIDS
UNAIDS deputy executive director Matthew Kavanagh. Image: Youtube

The UN has condemned homophobic reporting of Monkeypox, as the current outbreak reaches over 100 people. 

Monkeypox causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions.

The disease can be spread through close contact with an infected person, clothing or bedsheets. 

Of the global outbreak, the majority of confirmed cases are of gay and bisexual men, or men who have sex with men. 

However, UNAIDS- the main advocate for coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic- warned against stigmatising the current outbreak. 

In a statement released yesterday, UNAIDS said lessons from the AIDS response showed stigma and blame directed at certain groups can rapidly undermine outbreak response. 

While a significant portion of the current Monkeypox cases identified as gay and bisexual men, the disease is not sexually transmitted and is not limited to these groups.  

UNAIDS deputy executive director Matthew Kavanagh said that stigma undermines the capacity to respond effectively to outbreaks. 

“Experience shows that stigmatising rhetoric can quickly disable evidence-based response by stoking cycles of fear,” he said.

“Driving people away from health services, impeding efforts to identify cases, and encouraging ineffective, punitive measures.”

“Monkeypox is not a gay disease”, says WHO

World Health Organisation’s sexually transmitted infections adviser Andy Seale reiterated the need for clear reporting. 

“While, for example, we’re seeing some cases amongst men who have sex with men, this is not a ‘gay disease’ as some people on social media have attempted to label it,” Mr Seale said. 

“Anybody can contract Monkeypox through close contact.”

While Mr Seale said the current Monkeypox outbreak was not “typical”, it was early days and not yet fully understood. 

Mr Seale added that MSM communities are more likely to present to sexual health services when they have concerns, which may be a contributing factor to the Monkeypox cases identified in these communities.

Mr Kavanagh said the outbreak highlighted the need for global leaders to strengthen pandemic prevention.

‘This includes building stronger community-led capacity and human rights infrastructure to support effective and non-stigmatizing responses to outbreaks,” he said.

“Stigma hurts everyone. Shared science and social solidarity help everyone.”

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1 Comment

  1. Paul
    25 June 2022

    Too late now, the genie is out of the bottle.

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