Letter: Monkeypox’s inaction concerns the local gay community

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“We’ve heard doctors tell their patients not to worry about monkeypox because it’s a ‘gay’ disease”

Editor’s note: This is an open letter addressed to Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health.

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Dear Minister Duclos:

We write to you and the Ontario Minister of Health with great concern about our community and Monkeypox.

We have also copied various leaders, the Premier, Premier of Ontario, Ontario Prides and Canada Pride along with several union leaders. We are waiting for everyone’s response.

There have been several concerns raised by our community regarding access to vaccines and education about Monkeypox. We’ve heard doctors tell their patients not to worry about monkeypox because it’s a “gay” disease.

This is the story that has been repeating itself since the 1980s, concerning AIDS and HIV. Monkeypox is not a “gay” disease, and you need to start educating the public about it.

In discussions with many public health units in northern Ontario, we know that they have been advised that they must wait until they have a case of monkeypox before vaccines are sent to northern communities. Why? Why would we want to be reactive instead of proactive? Why would we subject the healthcare system to being further burdened by Monkeypox?

In the 1980s, with AIDS, governments took the same response that resulted in millions of deaths around the world, and you would think we would have learned our lesson, wouldn’t you? Hasn’t COVID taught us anything? Reacting to this does NOT work.

Is it because it currently appears among “gay” men?

Once again, our government’s inaction towards the gay community is very worrying. We ask the following:

  • Launch a federal and provincial education campaign on Monkeypox, including that it is not a “gay” disease
  • Access to Monkeypox vaccines in ALL communities to prevent spread.
  • Federal and Provincial Ministers of Health meet to consult Prides on monkeypox education and to roll out vaccination clinics across Canada, with vaccine education

Time is clearly not on our side on this. People are already facing more discrimination because people believe Monkeypox is a “gay” disease. Not to mention that the spread is fast. We urge you to meet with us immediately and come together to plan for all communities and help avoid overwhelming health systems in Canada once again when they are already starting to crack.

Don’t leave the queer community out in the cold any longer.

Sincerely,

Jason Maclennan

Communications Director

Pride of North Bay

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