Health and Wellness

Gay & bi men reduce sexual partners to fight monkeypox exposure

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Photo: Shutterstock

The spread of monkeypox is causing men who have sex with men (MSM) to reduce their numbers of sexual partners, according to survey results released this week by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC’s survey found that 48 percent of respondents had reduced their number of sexual partners, 50 had reduced their number of one-night stands, and 49 percent reduced the amount of sex they had with men that they’d met through hookup apps, The Hill reported.

The publication noted that local public health officials have been hesitant to suggest that people practice sexual abstinence as a key approach to avoiding possible exposure, noting that the strategy may be ineffective even though the federal government championed it during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s.

There are just over 15,000 cases of monkeypox in the U.S. as of Monday, according to the CDC. However, infectious disease experts think this number is likely an undercount. President Joe Biden declared a national state of emergency for monkeypox in early August. The World Health Organization (WHO) also declared monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in late July.

Both the New England Journal of Medicine and WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have said that the epidemic has mostly spread amongst MSM. Accordingly, the Biden administration has rolled out pop-up vaccination sites at queer events like Atlanta Pride and New Orleans’ Southern Decadence.

However, one report suggested that the high case numbers among MSM may have to do with the fact that queer men seek medical treatment more often than heterosexual individuals.

The recent increase in cases nationwide has revealed the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have enough vaccine doses available to meet public demand. To help stretch the current reserve, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the vaccine to be administered intradermally — that is, into the skin’s superficial layers — rather than through its usual subcutaneous method which injects the vaccine into the fat and connective tissues between the skin and muscular layers.

The intradermal method could stretch the nation’s vaccine supply fivefold and has been found to be effective when vaccinating against rabies and polio.

However, some LGBTQ individuals have criticized the government for what they say is an inadequate response to the outbreak.

 “I’ve been really disappointed in our leaders, especially those who were in office during the onslaught of the AIDS crisis, like President [Joe] Biden and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi,” nonbinary Queer Eye reality TV star Jonathan Van Ness told USA Today.

“Once again, we’re seeing too little action taken until the situation has ballooned out of control,” they added. “If nothing changes, we’ll continue to experience failures like this response, which has been plagued with too few tests, lack of access to treatments, inadequate vaccine supply, and ambiguous guidance.”

“In many ways, I believe it’s been fueled by homophobia and transphobia,” Ness said. “When an outbreak affects mainly men who have sex with men, some portion of our elected legislators will have no incentive to act… which is obviously messed up because people’s lives are at stake, and there are queer people in all 50 states.”

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