The United Nations AIDS agency on Sunday (22/5) called some reports of the monkeypox virus racist and homophobic. The United Nations also warned the report was exacerbating stigma and undermining the response to the burgeoning outbreak.
UNAIDS says “the vast majority” of recent cases of monkeypox have been identified among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with the same sex. But according to UNAIDS, transmission of monkeypox is most likely through close physical contact with sufferers, and can affect anyone, he added.
The UN agency said some depictions of Africans and LGBTI people “reinforce homophobic and racist stereotypes and exacerbate stigma”.
On May 21, the World Health Organization received reports of 92 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox and 28 suspected cases from 12 countries where the disease is not endemic, including several European countries, the Americas, Australia and Canada.
“Stigma and accusations undermine trust and capacity to respond effectively during an outbreak like this,” said UNAIDS deputy executive director Matthew Kavanagh.
“Experience has shown that offensive rhetoric can quickly deactivate evidence-based response by triggering a cycle of fear, alienating people from healthcare, hindering efforts to identify cases, and encouraging ineffective punitive measures.”
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue, and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.
There is no treatment yet, but symptoms usually go away after two to four weeks. The disease is considered endemic in 11 African countries. [my/jm]
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