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New WHO monkeypox advice urges men who have sex with men to limit partners



The pinnacle of the World Well being Group has instructed that males who’ve intercourse with males quickly restrict their variety of sexual companions whereas monkeypox circumstances improve inside their group — a shift in messaging from the worldwide well being company, days after it raised its menace alert degree for the monkeypox outbreak.

WHO Director Basic Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the comments Wednesday throughout a information briefing through which he stated 98 % of monkeypox circumstances have been reported in males who’ve intercourse with males.

Tedros stated “that is an outbreak that may be stopped,” so long as governments take the suitable measures and people keep knowledgeable and defend themselves from the virus.

“For males who’ve intercourse with males, this consists of, for the second, lowering your variety of sexual companions, reconsidering intercourse with new companions, and exchanging contact particulars with any new companions to allow follow-up if wanted,” Tedros stated.

For the reason that monkeypox outbreak was first reported by the WHO in Might, public well being officers have sought to stability the necessity for outreach to the group experiencing the majority of transmission — males who’ve intercourse with males, together with homosexual and bisexual males — and the will to not stigmatize members of that community, or give the impression that monkeypox solely impacts males who’ve intercourse with males.

“Anybody uncovered can get monkeypox,” Tedros stated Wednesday, as he urged international locations to “cut back the danger of transmission to different susceptible teams,” together with kids, pregnant individuals and people with weak immune techniques.

Nonetheless, because it has change into clear that monkeypox is, for now, largely spreading amongst males who’ve intercourse with males, calls have grown for well being companies and governments to do extra particular outreach to members of that group.

What to know about monkeypox symptoms, treatments and protection

Monkeypox mainly spreads via shut bodily contact between people, though it will also be unfold by a pregnant particular person to their fetus via the placenta, and when an individual touches contaminated garments and different objects, in response to the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC). Signs of monkeypox an infection embrace fever, muscle ache and a rash or pox-like blisters.

Greater than 18,000 circumstances of monkeypox have been reported to the WHO from 78 international locations, though the majority of the circumstances are in Europe, the epicenter of the outbreak. 5 of these circumstances have resulted in dying, the WHO stated.

Greater than 18,000 monkeypox circumstances have been reported in over 70 international locations as of July 2022. Here is what you might want to learn about the way it spreads. (Video: Pleasure Yi, Fenit Nirappil/The Washington Submit, Picture: CDC/The Washington Submit)

Greater than 4,600 monkeypox infections have been reported in the US, the place President Biden is weighing whether or not to declare the outbreak a public health emergency.

For its half, the WHO declared monkeypox a “public well being emergency of worldwide concern” — its highest degree of menace — over the weekend, after an emergency committee convened by the worldwide well being physique declined once last month to advocate the WHO take that step.

Tedros, the WHO chief, stated Saturday he made the ultimate name after members of the committee remained cut up on whether or not the high-alert declaration was warranted. One of many causes for the hesitation was an absence of proof that monkeypox is spreading among the many wider inhabitants.

Though monkeypox has unfold largely amongst males who’ve intercourse with males on this outbreak, it has been endemic for many years outdoors that group in West and Central African countries. As The Washington Post has reported, specialists imagine the newest outbreak may have unfold first via homosexual social networks and at areas frequented by males who’ve intercourse with males, together with European saunas and festivals.

WHO declares monkeypox a global health emergency as infections soar

The monkeypox outbreak has highlighted disparities in access to health care for homosexual and bisexual males in the US, the place there usually are not sufficient vaccines and suppliers in a position to administer anti-viral therapies to assist all these in search of to guard themselves from an infection.

Because the nation’s health-care system scrambles to reply, many specialists take into account the general public well being response to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, when homosexual males had been scapegoated and died of the illness in giant numbers when efficient therapies weren’t but obtainable.

“Expertise exhibits that stigmatizing rhetoric can rapidly disable evidence-based response by stoking cycles of worry, driving individuals away from well being companies, impeding efforts to determine circumstances, and inspiring ineffective, punitive measures,” Matthew Kavanagh, the deputy government director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, said in May as he known as for warning in monkeypox messaging.

Struggle to protect gay, bisexual men from monkeypox exposes inequities

In its steerage for public well being messaging on monkeypox for homosexual and bisexual males, the CDC stated, “It’s essential to achieve any disproportionately affected group with non-alarmist, fact-based messaging about monkeypox that gives individuals with instruments they will use to guard themselves and others.”

Tedros — whose Wednesday suggestions look like more specific than past WHO guidance — stated any efficient response to the outbreak should empower “communities of males who’ve intercourse with males to cut back the danger of an infection and onward transmission.” However the response should be formed, he stated, in ways in which “safeguard human rights and dignity.”

“Stigma and discrimination could be as harmful as any virus, and may gas the outbreak,” he added.

Fenit Nirappil contributed to this report.