Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection? Here’s why gay and bisexual men should limit their sexual partners

The World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended that gay and bisexual men limit their number of sexual partners to protect themselves from monkeypox and help slow transmission of the fast-spreading virus.

WHO monkeypox expert Rosamund Lewis said men who have sex with men are most at risk of infection. She added that around 99% of cases were in men and at least 95% of those patients were men who have sex with men.

As a result, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was crucial for public health authorities to engage communities of men who have sex with men to reduce transmission of the virus and take care infected people while protecting human rights by fighting discrimination and stigma.

The WHO chief said: “For men who have sex with men, this includes, for now, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering whether you can have sex with new partners and the exchange of contact details with any new partners to allow follow-up if necessary. .”

Generally, monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted infection and it is not known whether it can be transmitted through semen during sexual intercourse. Dr John Brooks, epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “Monkey pox is not a sexually transmitted infection in the typical sense, but it can be transmitted through sexual and intimate contact. ”

Dr. Linda Yancey, an infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, told Healthline, “Monkey pox is primarily a disease of animals, and it can be transmitted to them. We strive to spread the message that patients with the virus should have no contact with animals, wild or domestic, to prevent the virus from entering local animal populations. »

Experts historically believed that monkeypox was not easily transmitted between humans, and it remains unclear how it is now spreading more widely. Some have suggested the virus may have evolved to become more transmissible. However, genetic sequencing would not support this hypothesis.

Ghebreyesus called on news agencies, social media platforms and tech companies to counter harmful information that could only fuel the monkeypox outbreak. He said: “Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus and fuel the epidemic. As we’ve seen with Covid-19 misinformation, and that information can spread quickly online.

Dr. Michelle Forcier, a clinician at FOLX Health, said there is an idea that the monkeypox virus only spreads among gay and bisexual men. She said: “Rumors about monkeypox are harmful because they isolate and seem to ‘blame’ a particular group of people for spreading this infection. Calling the monkeypox virus an STI and tying it to our culture’s view of sex as scary or shameful can keep those exposed or infected from seeking medical attention. »

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that there were 21,148 confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide as of July 28, 2022. Of these, 20,804 cases are from countries that have never reported the virus. monkeypox, while 344 cases are from countries that have historically reported monkeypox.

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