Should public messaging highlight the fact that monkeypox is primarily affecting men who have sex with men?The simultaneous threats of homophobia and monkeypox require making a difficult choice about which to tackle first, says the writer and veteran Aids activist Mark S King, a 61-year-old gay man.That’s why King is aligned with an increasing number of US public health officials and advocates who believe the messaging around monkeypox needs to be brutally honest in communicating the risks to the population most affected – even if homophobes are going to pounce on it.“Still waiting for gay men who are having random sex with strangers during the Monkeypox outbreak to get lectured and scolded by public health authorities the way that the rest of us did for going to grocery stores and restaurants during Covid,” tweeted the Daily Caller’s Matt Walsh.But King says these rightwing attacks are just a distraction.
The prominent rights group Glaad has notably cautioned against framing monkeypox as a disease that primarily affects men who have sex with men in guidance issued to the media.Framing monkeypox as a disease within the gay community will discourage other people from educating themselves on prevention, says DaShawn Usher, the director of communities of color and media at Glaad.
“Stigma drives fear, and fear then becomes resistance to public health and stopping the spread of the disease.”.Usher says the belief that monkeypox only affects some people might also discourage employers from offering accommodations for monkeypox, or prevent workers from disclosing that they have monkeypox for fear of being labeled or outed as queer.The activist believes the best way to offer frank public health advice about sex is to remove any moral judgment.“Those people tracking down queer men to bash, they have a pocket full of hatred on any number of issues that will lead them to pick up that beer bottle,” King says
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