The Federal Ministry of Health (SSa ) asked citizens not to link monkeypox (simian pox) with gay people and members of the LGBT+ community, because it feeds stigma and discrimination.
Through a statement, the Ministry of Health explained that the narrative that associates monkeypox with the LGBTQ+ community feeds the discrimination that keeps people from receiving timely medical care.
They reiterated that attributing the transmission of this virus solely to sexual contact is premature and feeds stereotypes that violate people’s human rights.
They also stressed that the virus can affect all people regardless of their sexuality and gender identity.
SSa explained that the main route of transmission of monkeypox is directly from wild animals to humans. According to the WHO, person-to-person transmission can occur through close contact with infected secretions from the respiratory tract or skin lesions of an infected person or through objects contaminated with fluids. So far, there is no scientific evidence that the monkeypox virus is sexually transmitted.
The Ministry of Health indicated that monkeypox is caused by an orthopoxvirus of the smallpox family, which was the first disease eradicated by humans thanks to coordinated public health actions. It is colloquially called the monkey because in 1958 it was detected in these animals; however, it can also be found in rodents.
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The first case in humans was detected in 1970, and since then outbreaks have been reported in a dozen African countries. It was not until 2003 that cases were confirmed outside of the African continent, causing outbreaks of the disease.
They reiterated the strong call to eliminate messages linking the LGBTTTIQ+ population to monkeypox.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted gay and bisexual men that monkeypox appears to be spreading in the community globally, warning people to take precautions if they have been in close contact with someone who may have the virus and to be on the lookout for symptoms.
Dr. John Brooks, a CDC official, emphasized that anyone can contract monkeypox through close personal contact regardless of sexual orientation. However, Brooks said many of the people affected globally so far are men who identify as gay or bisexual. Though some groups have a greater chance of exposure to monkeypox right now, the risk isn’t limited only to the gay and bisexual community, he cautioned.
“We want to help people make the best-informed decisions to protect their health and the health of their community from monkeypox,” Brooks said.
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