Back in the Summer of 2022, Mpox, then labeled Monkeypox, was beginning to hit the gay male demographic. Then, a vaccine was announced, and long waiting lists were created, but eventually, the number of new infections began to decline.

Now, for most gay men, it is out of sight, out of mind. But after a few outbreaks in major USA cities.

What is MonkeyPox?

Monkeypox is a zoonotic orthopoxvirus, meaning it’s caused by germs that spread between animals and people; that appears similar to smallpox, although significantly less deadly. Most outbreaks in Europe and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere are related to the exotic pet trade and international travel.

The virus has two variants: the West African strain and the Central African strain.

The cases identified in the U.K., Canada, USA, and the EU have all been the West African strain of the virus, which is thought to be milder than the Central African strain.

Initial symptoms of the Monkeypox virus include fever, headache, myalgia, fatigue, and swelling of the lymph nodes. After one to two days, lesions, or rash, may develop in first the mouth and later on the face and extremities like the palms and soles.

The rash may further spread, and the number of lesions can range from just a few to thousands.

The recently detected cases among men who have sex with men have reported a preponderance of lesions in the genital area. The rash goes through different stages and can look like chickenpox or syphilis before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

The difference in appearance between chickenpox and syphilis is the uniform evolution of the lesions. The incubation period is typically 6 to 16 days but can be up to 21. When the scab falls off, a person is no longer infectious.  

The illness, from which most people recover within several weeks and has only been fatal in rare cases.

How is it contracted?

Monkeypox is a virus and behaves in ways similar to other viruses that we know of.

The disease is usually caught from an infected animal if a person is bitten or comes into contact with its blood or other bodily fluids. They consume or touch infected animal products like meat, skin, or fur.

Transmission between humans mainly occurs through large respiratory droplets. As droplets cannot travel far, prolonged face-to-face contact is needed. The virus can also enter the body through bodily fluids, lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.

Is Monkey Pox and STD?

Yes, and no. It depends on how you classify a sexually transmitted disease. We all know of the basic ones like HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, Hep A-B-C, and herpes. But, if you consider an STD to be any illness that can be contracted through sexual contact or intercourse, yes, Monkeypox is an STD. Also, you would need to include other diseases within this classification, such as the common cold, flu virus, and even covid19.

All of these diseases have in common their ability to spread quickly through close physical contact and the exchange of bodily fluids.

Many news outlets report this virus as a new STD among homosexual males for the above-stated reasons, but that is an error. The reason Monkeypox is showing itself within our community has more to do with our sexual socialization than our sexual orientation.

Many of the reported cases “are occurring within sexual networks,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The UK Health Security Agency also highlighted that the recent cases were predominantly among men who self-identified as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men.

The large leather/fetish Belgian event Darklands sent an email to the almost 10,000 gay males who attended the event in early May 2020, stating the Belgian government has confirmed three (3) cases of Monkeypox linked directly to visitors of the event.

What this means is that gay males are more likely than our straight brothers to have sexual partners, partners that have traveled to foreign countries, and those partners having a more significant number of sexual partners. This becomes especially true when you factor in sex parties, bathhouses, saunas, circuit parties, and hook-up apps.

None of this is to say that this is our fault or that we deserve an illness; instead, we should take what we know about our real lives and compare it to what the news media reports. And, of course, be extra vigilant with our health status and partners.

New calls to identify Monkeypox as a sexually transmitted illness stem from rashes and lesions appearing primarily around the genitals and anus of those infected. Some have even developed large clusters around their mouths. The location seems to coincide with the sexual activity the person engaged in.

Prevention and Treatment

The most effective prevention method to date has been vaccinations. Those under 45 are more at risk for Monkeypox because most of us did not receive the Smallpox vaccination that older generations did.

One vaccine, JYNNEOSTM (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex), has been licensed in the United States to prevent Monkeypox and smallpox. Because the monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can also protect people from getting Monkeypox. Past data from Africa suggests that the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing Monkeypox.

The effectiveness of JYNNEOSTM against Monkeypox was concluded from a clinical study on the immunogenicity of JYNNEOS and efficacy data from animal studies. Experts also believe vaccination after a monkeypox exposure may help prevent or make the disease less severe.”

As of the end of May 2022, The United States and the United Kingdom have started to stockpile jabs in case of a continued outbreak.

At this time, there is no treatment for this virus. If you believe you have contracted this illness, IMMEDIATELY REPORT TO EMERGENCY for care. They will be able to assess and properly diagnose your symptoms, provide treatment for them, and keep you from infecting others.

For those experiencing minor symptoms, be aware that you, and even those asymptomatic. may pass on the virus to others.

General awareness of the facts behind this virus is the best and fastest way to prevent its spread throughout our community.

Recently, a growing number of Western nations have begun providing jabs to those most vulnerable to infection: homosexual males. We highly recommend you search your particular state or country’s health department website for information about scheduling an appointment. Spaces are filling up very quickly everywhere. Remember that the vaccination is two (2) jabs and not one (1) before you may be considered fully vaccinated.

It is still being researched if those infected retain a level of immunity to this new strain of Monkeypox.

Before you go…

We have all been here before. Whenever there is a new disease, gay males are the first infected and blamed. But, we can use our collective history to remain calm, not spread fear or rumors and stay alert to the symptoms of Monkeypox. Most of all, knowledge gives us an edge over contagion.

If you are ill, believe you might have been in contact with someone infected with Monkeypox, or attended an event where someone has been proven to be infected, DO NOT TAKE CHANCES with your health or that of your partners.

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