The United Nations AIDS agency on Sunday slammed some reporting on the monkeypox virus as racist and homophobic, warning of heightening stigma and undermining the response to the growing epidemic.
UNAIDS said “a significant proportion” of recent cases of monkeypox have been identified among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
But transmission is most likely through close physical contact with someone with monkeypox and can affect anyone, he added, saying certain depictions of Africans and LGBTI people “reinforce stereotypes homophobic and racist and exacerbate stigma”.
As of May 21, the World Health Organization has 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, states United States, Australia and Canada.
“Stigma and blame undermine trust and the ability to respond effectively during epidemics like this,” said UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Matthew Kavanagh.
“Experience shows that stigmatizing rhetoric can quickly disable an evidence-based response by fueling cycles of fear, driving people away from health services, hampering case identification efforts and encouraging ineffective punitive measures. .”
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.
No treatment exists, but symptoms usually disappear after two to four weeks. The disease is considered endemic in 11 African countries.
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