GMHC Responds to Growing Stigma Around Monkeypox Outbreak

GMHC Calls on the Media to Provide Accurate, Scientific Information about Monkeypox that Doesn’t Stigmatize Gay and Bisexual Men
Just like HIV, Exposure to Monkeypox is Based on What People Do, Not Who They Are

New York – According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 5:00 P.M. on May 26 there have been 10 reported cases of Monkeypox in the U.S., including one (1) in New York State. The following is a statement from GMHC, the world’s first HIV and AIDS services organization:

“For 40 years, GMHC has witnessed and fought against the stigmatization of gay and bisexual men as disease carriers for HIV, meningitis, and now Monkeypox. The language used by the media reporting on Monkeypox needs to be rooted in science, not stigma.

“Rhetoric and click-bait headlines that state or imply that Monkeypox is a ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’ disease is dangerous because it misinforms the public about who is at risk and how the virus is spread. It also feeds those with a homophobic mentality who will only elevate unscientific information at the expense of public health and safety, particularly for gay and bisexual men.

“The longtime stigma and homophobia have enabled, for example, the FDA to still require gay and bisexual men to be celibate for three months before donating blood, even though there is a national emergency blood shortage because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and even though modern HIV testing technology can ensure a safe blood supply.

“GMHC calls on the media outlets that have already aired inaccurate, sensationalized headlines and stories that falsely indicate that simply being gay or bisexual is a risk factor for Monkeypox to stop this misinformation and correct their reporting.”

GMHC strongly urges the media—and anyone sharing information about Monkeypox in person or on social media—to model the language used by the CDC:

“It’s not clear how the individuals were exposed to Monkeypox but cases include people who self-identify as men who have sex with men.

“CDC is urging healthcare providers in the U.S. to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with Monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for Monkeypox and regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”

More information about Monkeypox is available from the CDC at cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox

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