'It's A Myth': The Trouble With Monkeypox Being Connected To Gay Sex

Dr Pradeep Awate, state director for epidemiology, Maharashtra said, "The major myth is that it is being spread through gay men which is totally false."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently claimed that the Monkeypox virus which has been detected in over 70 countries as of now, is most prevalent among a particular network — of men having sex with men (MSM). The statement was further clarified by the WHO claiming that 'since most of the positive cases were picked up from sexual health clinics showed that the disease was mostly diagnosed among MSM group it was announced that this particular community takes more precautionary measures.'

However, this has not gone down well with the LGBTQ community that has demanded the government authorities need to clarify the myths around this disease, as it could lead to a possible stigma around the community.

What does the WHO say?

Since many of the cases reported in this outbreak were identified among men who had sex with men, WHO had said that men who have sex with men may currently be at higher risk of being exposed to this disease if they have close contact with someone who is infectious.

Also Read | Kerala Man With Monkeypox Dies, 20 Quarantined: All You Need To Know

Some cases of Monkeypox were picked up at sexual health clinics. Monkeypox rashes often resemble some sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes and syphilis, which is one reason why these cases were seen at sexual health clinics.

However, the WHO later issued a statement saying, "It is important to note that the risk of monkeypox is not limited to men who have sex with men. Anyone who has close contact with someone who is infectious is at risk. However, given that the virus is being identified in these communities, learning about monkeypox will help ensure that as few people as possible are affected and that the outbreak can be stopped."

How can the statement of WHO affect the LGBTQ community?

Sonali Dalvi, transgender model and activist, said, "Of course, such a statement would stigmatise us majorly."

We are only humans and are not someone who 'only' indulge in sexual activities. The LGBTQ community is one such group that has been targeted majorly in the past which was seen during the widespread of HIV/AIDs. Many were shunned by society and abandoned by their families. The government needs to make sure that we are not targeted this time and are not stigmatised again in the name of an illness," Dalvi said.

Researcher and transgender activist Dr Rachna said, "Monkeypox is a zoonotic viral disease and not something that only gay men may spread. There have to be awareness sessions among the population by the government so that our community does not suffer at large."

"It's a myth"

Dr Pradeep Awate, state director for epidemiology, Maharashtra said, "The major myth is that it is being spread through gay men which is totally false. We would like to stress that it is not a sexually transmitted disease. We cannot hold this group responsible for the spread of Monkeypox."

"All the eight positive cases that have been reported in India have been detected among the heterosexual group," Dr Awate added.

Elaborating further, Dr Awate said, "The transmission dynamics of this disease imitates the diseases that are sexually transmitted. Hence, it was mostly picked among the group of men having sex with men. However, this disease can be spread to any person and can be found in anyone who is a close intimate contact with the one who is infected. Mostly those who were exposed to the bodily fluids of the infected patient are seen to have contracted the illness."

What can be done to eradicate this myth?

Dr Avinash Bhondwe, dean of college of general practitioners, national Indian Medical Association said, "Like IMA which has started sensitisation of the society by holding various workshops and CMEs for its doctors, the pubic health department too should come up with awareness sessions that will help eradicate the stigma if any related to the LGBTQ community."

He further added, "We all need to understand that Monkeypox is not a new disease and belongs to the re-emergence of the diseases. It can be very well handled at home and the first priority is to isolate and diagnose the disease as early as possible."

Dalvi too shared the same opinion. She said that the government needs to stop 'mann ki baat' and talk about monkeypox sooner so that "we do not face any discrimination again."

Also Read | India Reports 4 Monkeypox Cases, Here's What Govt Guidelines Say


Updated On: 2022-08-05T12:18:31+05:30
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