|"Strange new infectious diseases that the public is unfamiliar with, such as monkeypox, can generate a disproportionate degree of fear in the population." This has proved even more so in the post-covid age.
Monkeypox may be unfamiliar to the Western world, but the disease is endemic to 11 African nations. The infection is often mild and clears up within weeks. This outbreak is the first time it has spread in the community outside Africa, with the highest number currently being seen in the UK.
Many cases reported at this time are in "gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men" which has been widely reported in the media, often carelessly. There is potential for an incredibly concerning homophonic narrative here which we must mitigate against.
|Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, but passes through close physical contact. This means that who you have sex with is not a determining factor - the reason behind the higher cases in men who have sex with men is likely just a result of their social network. Not to mention, gay and bisexual men as a group tend to engage well with health services, allowing us to spot trends of symptoms, while others do not.
We need to stop this mis-portrayal of monkeypox in its tracks. Inaccurate stigma of certain groups feeds into racism, homophobia, and undermines efforts to contain and treat infection. The fear-mongering of news and social media has a huge part to play in this rhetoric, so make sure you're mindful of where you source your news.