The United States declared a public health emergency over the monkeypox epidemic last week, emphasising the danger that the virus’s expansion poses to Americans. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8,900 cases have been confirmed in 49 states (CDC). While the expansion of monkeypox is reason for worry, it is especially so among men who have sex with men (MSM) because of the nature of monkeypox transmission and the high occurrence in this demographic. Furthermore, because to a weaker immune system, MSM with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are at an even higher risk of serious sickness and death.
This year, roughly 1.17 million males in the United States are living with HIV, including both identified and undiagnosed cases, according to GlobalData. The majority of these incidents are anticipated to occur within the MSM population. According to the most recent CDC HIV monitoring, approximately 81% of new diagnoses among men originated via male-to-male sexual contact. A lack of viral suppression exacerbates the situation. According to the CDC, 44% of MSM (or 417,000 persons) are not virally suppressed and hence do not have their HIV infection under control, assuming treatment patterns among MSM are comparable to all males with HIV.
Such a large number is concerning because the transmission of monkeypox has mostly been restricted to this population. According to the most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the period of 17 May to 22 July 2022, 94% of confirmed monkeypox patients had reported recent male-to-male sexual contact. As a result of the substantial overlap between both viral illnesses in the MSM community, monkeypox infection raises the risk of severe illness and possibly death.
While governments have appropriately concentrated resources on reducing monkeypox infections in this population, racial minorities must be given special attention. Infections of monkeypox now disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic people, who also account for a disproportionate number of HIV cases among MSM and so represent an important preventative target. Finally, while the general population is not at high risk of monkeypox infection, it is critical to stay cautious and aware since the virus can still infect people outside of this group.
Symptoms of Monkeypox
Monkeypox causes a rash on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole), as well as other places such as the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
Before healing, the rash will go through numerous phases, including scabs.
The rash may first appear as pimples or blisters and may be unpleasant or uncomfortable.
Other signs of monkeypox include:
- Lymph nodes swollen
- Backache and muscle pains
- Symptoms of respiratory disease (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- You may encounter all or just a few of the symptoms.
- Before the rash, some persons have flu-like symptoms.
- Some people have a rash initially, then additional symptoms appear.
- Others just develop a rash.
How long do the symptoms of monkeypox last?
- Monkeypox symptoms often appear within three weeks of viral contact. When someone has flu-like symptoms, they generally acquire a rash within 1-4 days.
- Monkeypox can be transmitted from the time symptoms appear until the rash heals, all scabs fall off, and a new layer of skin forms. Typically, the disease lasts 2-4 weeks.
- If You Have an Unusual Rash or Other Symptoms…
- Avoid close contact, including sex or becoming intimate with someone, unless you’ve been cleared by a doctor.
- If you don’t have a doctor or health insurance, go to a public health clinic in your area.
- Wear a mask when you see a healthcare practitioner and warn them that this virus is spreading in the region.