Experts say monkeypox virus vaccines should be prioritized for men who have sex with men.
Monkeypox, a virus originally transmitted to humans from animals, now has more than 15,000 confirmed cases worldwide in 71 countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Previous cases have been associated with gay and bisexual men, with many cases in the United States linked to a single event. Although anyone, regardless of sexuality, can contract the disease, as it is spread through skin-to-skin or skin-to-clothing contact, the initial surge of cases in the LGBTQ+ community means that men who have sex with men are currently most at risk. virus risk.
Vaccines against monkeypox have recently been made available in the United States. As of July 19, more than 190,000 doses of the JYNNEOS smallpox and monkeypox vaccine have been distributed from the National Strategic Stockpile to aid local vaccination efforts nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and of Health. Personal services.
There are not enough doses to immunize everyone, which means those most at risk must be prioritized. Starting July 20, the vaccine will be available in Los Angeles to “gay men, bisexual men, men who have sex with men, and transgender people who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis in the past few years.” last 12 months; or who are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) therapy; or have frequented or worked at a place of commercial sex or other place where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners in the past 21 days,” the Los County Public Health Department said. Angeles.
“In any epidemic where you try to control the epidemic, you give it to the people most at risk,” said Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the Norwich School of Medicine at the University of East Anglia at the UK. Newsweek.
“For monkeypox, it’s men who have sex with men and participate in active sexual networks where they have frequent intimate contact with a range of other people. This is the group where the epidemic is mainly spreads and that’s the group where you have to target the vaccine in the first place. Giving vaccines to people who are not really at risk will not help, ”he said.
Hunter says men who have sex with men but are in an exclusive relationship aren’t at much risk, however, and so don’t need to be prioritized for access to the vaccine at this point.
Newsweek has contacted the CDC for comment.
Hugh Adler, Honorary Clinical Researcher in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the UK’s Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, agrees. “The [U.K.’s] The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunization has recommended that [gay and bisexual men] who are at particularly high risk of exposure to monkeypox are offered the smallpox vaccine – the risk criteria are not strictly defined, but would include for example having multiple partners,” he said. Newsweek.
“There is only a four-day window for post-exposure vaccination, so it makes sense to offer pre-exposure vaccination to those most at risk. Post-exposure vaccines can be [given] up to 14 days [after exposure]but are less effective after four days.”
There have been concerns that monkeypox’s association with the gay community could lead to a homophobic backlash similar to what happened during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
Hunter also suggested the vaccine could be offered to sex workers, as their frequent skin-to-skin contact with clients could put them at greater risk.
“I would add that I am concerned that there is a risk of transmission in heterosexual networks, although we haven’t really seen it yet, and I would like to start offering the vaccine to sex workers as well,” a- he declared.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion, and a pustular rash that can cause scarring. These symptoms are similar, but less clinically severe, to those of smallpox, which was officially eradicated in the 1980s.