Contending with the monkeypox outbreak

August 2, 2022 – On July 27, the World Health Organization recommended that in order to reduce the risk of monkeypox, men who have sex with men should limit their number of sexual partners. Following the guidance will help individuals and communities protect themselves, according to Keletso Makofane, a health and human rights fellow at the FXB Center for Health & Human Rights at Harvard University.

Reducing risky sex practices can be an effective temporary measure and is “one tool, among many tools, people can use to manage risk,” Makofane said in a July 27 article in STAT. However, officials should be careful not to give the impression that the behaviors are intrinsically wrong, he said.

Makofane and other experts quoted in a July 28 Grid article noted that monkeypox symptoms are still not being recognized by primary care physicians and specialists such as dermatologists, resulting in many undiagnosed and untreated cases. He called for the development of monkeypox-focused training programs for healthcare providers, with clinics that have experience treating LGBTQ+ patients playing a central role. “We really want to make sure that there’s a large cadre of healthcare providers, outside of specialty services, who can watch out for monkeypox,” he said.

The main symptom of monkeypox, a rash made up of small blisters, varies among patients, Makofane explained in a July 28 Boston Globe article. The severity of the rash depends on its location, with debilitating blisters sometimes occurring in the rectum, where they impede bowel movements.

Because monkeypox is currently primarily affecting men who have sex with men, the federal government’s response sends a message about how the community is valued, Makofane said in a July 29 Atlantic article. “In June, when it’s time to put rainbow flags up, they do,” he said. “But when it’s time to give us resources? To prevent what some people describe as the worst pain they’ve ever felt in their lives? They choose not to.”

Makofane added in an August 1 NPR article that the government should focus on immediate control of the outbreak. “At the moment, the things that are really standing in the way of a successful response are just having access to testing, to vaccines and to treatments,” he said.

Makofane is conducting a study called RESPND-MI to determine the prevalence of monkeypox in New York City and to help friends share information about the disease.

Read the STAT article: WHO recommends men who have sex with men reduce sex partners to limit monkeypox risk

Read the Grid article: Monkeypox is spreading undetected because testing is a mess — echoing the early days of covid

Read the Boston Globe article: It’s unlikely that you’ll catch monkeypox on the T: Answering questions about the virus

Read the Atlantic article: America Should Have Been Able to Handle Monkeypox

Read the NPR article: Critics say ‘monkeypox’ is a racist name. But it’s not going away anytime soon