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World Health Organization: Monkeypox 'Not a Gay Disease,' so Go to Pride

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday June 4, 2022
Originally published on May 31, 2022

Good news, Pride goers: The World Health Organization has issued a clean bill of health for this summer's celebrations, noting that Monkeypox "is not a gay disease" and should not disrupt your plans, political news site the Hill reported.

The article quoted Andy Seale, "a strategies adviser in the WHO Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes," who said: "It's important that people who want to go out and celebrate gay pride, LGBTQ+ pride, to continue to go and plan to do so."

Although WHO's health experts have theorized that the headline-grabbing outbreak of the disease — which is rarely seen outside of Africa — could have been facilitated by people having sex at two European raves, the experts also noted that the reported incidence of the viral infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) "may be a reflection of 'positive health seeking behavior' in that demographic, given that the cases were identified at sexual health clinics."

In other words, reports indicate that the outbreak has primarily affected MSM because people in that demographic are taking responsible steps to safeguard their own health, and the health of others, by seeking medical attention.

There are signs that the community as a whole is taking Monkeypox seriously. Grindr recently sent out a "Monkeypox Alert" that advised users to be on the lookout for the illness' telltale rash or other sores and seek medical attention if they spot it."

But the focus on MSM should not lead to stigma or blaming, health professionals say, and when it comes to Pride festivities, Seale pointed out that "There is no specific transmission route that we need to be worried about." The health expert noted that "pride parades were not a particular concern because they happen outdoors, while monkeypox has recently been linked to nightclubs and other indoor settings," the Hill said.

Seale added: "Given this is not a gay disease, the transmission routes are common to everybody."

Unlike HIV and a number of other sexually transmitted infections, Monkeypox can be transmitted by casual contact, including by touch or even using the same towels, sheets, or blankets. It can also be spread through droplets if an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The CDC has posted about the disease's symptoms: Early signs include flu-like symptoms such as chills, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue. A rash typically develops, later giving rise to painful pustules, similar to chicken pox, which then scab over before healing."

"WHO has reported 257 confirmed monkeypox cases and about 120 suspected cases from 23 countries where the virus is not endemic," the Hill relayed. "The international health group said it was not aware of any deaths caused by the virus' increased spread."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.