Monkeypox is not exclusive to gay and bisexual men, says CDC

A medical lab technician inactivates suspected monkeypox samples for testing by PCR.  99% of affected patients identify as gay or bisexual men.

A medical lab technician inactivates suspected monkeypox samples for testing by PCR. 99% of affected patients identify as gay or bisexual men.


Debate over whether or not monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease has intensified following the World Health Organization’s declaration that the disease is now a global health emergency.

However, Dr. Robert Murphy, an infectious disease expert at Northwestern Medicine, said the disease is not spread exclusively through sexual activity, as other STDs do.

“Monkey pox is not a sexually transmitted disease in the classic sense (by which it is spread in semen or vaginal secretions), but it is spread by close physical contact with lesions,” Murphy said in a statement. Press.

Claims that monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease are based on the fact that the outbreak has disproportionately affected members of the LGBTQIA+ community, specifically men who have had sex with men.

However, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV Prevention, said last month that people who were being treated for monkeypox infection had gone into “close contact” with lesions. through touch, bodily fluids, clothing and even shared laundry.

Although the monkeypox epidemic is primarily spread through close contact with infected people and equipment, the spread is not exclusive to sexual activity.

The CDC, Daskalakis said, urges the public to approach the outbreak without stigma.

“Anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, can develop and spread monkeypox. Many people affected by the current global epidemics identify as gay or bisexual men. However, the current risk of monkeypox exposure is not exclusive to gay or bisexual men in the United States,” Daskalakis said.

According to Murphy, the disease likely found its bearings within the LGBTQ community last month at Pride events where large gatherings were held.

Despite the fact that the disease isn’t just contracted by men who have had sex with other men, Murphy said that’s likely where health officials will begin containment efforts.

“It’s not a gay disease — there have been outbreaks on many college campuses. But when you think about vaccination, you want to look at high-risk populations first,” Murphy said. “So, the CDC and local health departments will want to prevent and treat monkeypox in places that are already experiencing or expected to experience an outbreak.”

In the past two months, there have been more than 2,800 cases of monkeypox in the United States and 12 of them in Mecklenburg County.

As of last week, those Mecklenburg County cases represent more than half of the cases in all of North Carolina, The Charlotte Observer reported.

According to the CDC, patients who have tested positive for monkeypox experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. Also, the telltale sign of a monkeypox infection, a rash with bumps that sometimes turn into lesions, is usually visible on the outer layer of skin.

Unlike COVID-19, monkeypox is a DNA virus. Thus, Murphy predicts that the outbreak is unlikely to reach epidemic or pandemic status.

“…People with infectious diseases like me call it an epidemic; it’s not an epidemic, and very unlikely to become one,” Murphy said. “It’s a DNA virus, they don’t mutate like these RNA viruses, so you wouldn’t expect it to turn into something like HIV or COVID-19.”

During a recent press conference on the subject, Walensky explained that the United States government has already distributed 191,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine since the outbreak began.

There are 160,000 doses ready to ship with no less than 780,000 more doses expected to be available this week.

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Evan Santiago is a reporter for the Charlotte Observer and writes for the publication’s Service Journalism Desk. He is originally from New York and is currently based in Queen City where he works to help local readers with the challenges that come with everyday life in the modern world.

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