LGBTQ+ advocates, health officials combat stigma with monkeypox communication

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ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Thursday, July 7, 2022
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With North Carolina reporting its third confirmed case of monkeypox, Wake County Public Health shared what they know about the patient on Thursday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- With North Carolina reporting its third confirmed case of monkeypox on Wednesday, Wake County Public Health shared what they know about the patient on Thursday.

"The person is isolating," Dr. Nicole Mushonga said.

This comes as the CDC reports more than 600 confirmed cases in the U.S., with New York currently the "epicenter" of the outbreak.

As public health officials try to keep those at risk informed, the dilemma they face is how to do it while separating stigma, as a higher proportion of the global cases are among gay and bisexual men.

The UK will offer vaccines to some gay, bisexual men for monkeypox.

"There was transmission through social and sexual contact among venues in Europe," LGBTQ advocate Alexander Borsa said. "And so the outbreak happened to be among a predominantly, LGBTQ, mostly men population, not exclusively."

Borsa, who's a PhD candidate at Columbia, talked to ABC11 in May about the potentially damaging narrative around Monkeypox and the LGBTQ community.

"There's nothing unique about LGBTQ people that makes them more likely, or less likely to transmit monkeypox," Borsa said on Thursday. "It's spread through social, close contact, through droplets."

Nationwide, the LGBTQ+ community has been involved in monkeypox communication, such as in Florida, where the Pride Center held a town hall in June.

"This is not something that is specific to the gay community, or that it's a gay disease," AHF Healthcare Center's Dr. Zachary Henry said. "There's no reason to start thinking that."

Mushonga said the role as public health is to make sure people are informed and have access to vaccines or treatment when necessary.

"Really just making sure that people have the education and the knowledge that when vaccine is available for their specific criteria, that that information will be shared," Mushonga said.

There have been no deaths or hospitalizations associated with monkeypox in the U.S. and the majority of laboratory confirmed cases were reported in Europe, according to WHO.

If you think you may have been exposed to someone who has monkeypox or feel you are eligible to receive the vaccine, you can call Wake County's Communicable Disease phone number at (919) 250-4462.