If you have been anywhere near a television, radio, computer or social media outlet, you have heard about Monkey Pox. But, you have also heard much talk about this virus being somehow related to homosexual sex and possibly being a sexually transmitted illness.

We are going to do our best to dispel the rumors, provide you with the basic facts about this virus and give you the information you need to keep yourself, and your partners, safe.

Let’s begin…

What is Monkey Pox?

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.

There are two variants of the virus: 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 Monkey pox 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 from chickenpox or 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?

Monkey pox 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, or they consume or touch infected animal products like meat, skin, or fur.

Transmission between humans mostly 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. There are the basic ones that we all know of 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 and or intercourse, yes, monkey pox is an STD. Also you would need to include other illnesses within this classification such as the common cold, flu virus and even covid19.

What all of these diseases have in common is their ability to be spread quickly through close physical contact as well as an exchange of bodily fluids.

Many news outlets are reporting this virus as a new STD among homosexual males for the above stated reasons, but that is an error. The reason why monkey pox 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 Monkey pox 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 travelled to foreign countries, and those partners having a larger number of sexual partners. This becomes especially true when you factor in sex parties, bath houses, saunas, circuit parties and even hook-up apps.

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

Prevention and Treatment

The most effective prevention method to date has been vaccinations. Those under the age of 45 are more at risk for contracting Monkey pox because most of us did not receive the Small pox 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 monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, smallpox vaccine can also protect people from getting monkeypox. Past data from Africa suggests that 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 that vaccination after a monkeypox exposure may help prevent the disease or make it less severe.”

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

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

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

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 make sure to stay alert to the symptoms of monkey pox. 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 monkey pox or attended an even where someone has been proven to be infected, DO NOT TAKE CHANCES with your health or that of your partners.

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