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“This disease doesn’t discriminate.”- M’sians Share Their Thoughts On Monkeypox As A ‘Gay Disease’

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Source: Eurosurveillance & 123RF

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One virus after another, it is as if we cannot catch any breaks lately.

Last Saturday (July 23, 2022), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), declared a public health emergency of international concern over the global monkeypox outbreak. 

Although the WHO highlights that 98% of cases so far are among men who have sex with men (gay and bisexual men), anyone exposed can get monkeypox.

Transmission can occur through prolonged face-to-face, skin-to-skin, direct contact.

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This means that “monkeypox can also be spread in households through close contact between people, such as hugging and kissing, and on contaminated towels or bedding.”

Nonetheless, there is already a stigma that queer men are causing the monkeypox outbreak when that is not true.

Here are what some Malaysians are saying about monkeypox and its association with the gay and bisexual male community.

A ‘gay disease’

An overwhelmingly large number of netizens call monkeypox a ‘gay disease’, tagging friends on Twitter and asking them to be careful.

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Some pointed out of the necessity of tailored messaging by public health systems because the facts should not be denied that most cases are from gay and bisexual men.

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“Identifying high-risk group(s) is pertinent in initiating interventions.”

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Disease does not discriminate

However, there are also many netizens who tried to explain that although the disease has a higher prevalence rate with gay and bisexual men, those who do not identify as such should not be complacent.

“Statistics like this (98% of cases being queer men) are good to know but should not be on the front page or used as a mascot for the disease.”

“Saying this disease only affects gays will cause people to not get vaccinated. This disease doesn’t differentiate between straight or gay.”

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“It’s a poxvirus; of course, it is easily spread through direct contact, and the best direct contact is sex. If you’re already gay and enjoy having sex with multiple partners, you’re bound to be sleeping with multiple random people. But it’s not an STD and a gay disease!”

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“As if straight people don’t have casual sex.”

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“The stats might be due to gay and bisexuals having more active sex lives or unprotected sex, not because it only affects them.”

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All this is to say that, yes, most monkeypox cases are gay and bisexual men.

However, this could be because of their sexual habits and higher inclination to get tested and diagnosed.

While targeted interventions are crucial, we should be aware that any form of prolonged direct contact can lead to the transmission of monkeypox.

 

Also read: World Health Organization (WHO) Declares Monkeypox A Global Health Emergency

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Source: 123RF
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