Monkeypox: What It Is and the Harm It Is Causing to Our LGBTQIA+ Community

Taboo, stigma, and discrimination are common words and experiences in our LGBTQIA+ community. Unfortunately and consequently, they continue to plague both adults and youth alike to this day. Years ago, specifically in the 1980s, HIV/AIDS took precedence in the global landscape of pandemics, initially focusing on only gay men. Later, it was found that heterosexuals can also be infected. As HIV/AIDS continues to impact our family today, another virus called Monkeypox or MPXV is on the rise, adding stigma to the community that has long been used as a scapegoat for health-related scares.
COVID and Monkeypox
The past few years have been a roller coaster ride, to say the very least. Health protocols are the norm wherever you might find yourself today. COVID has and is still wreaking havoc, indiscriminately infecting the population. But, just when things appear to be normalizing, MPXV emerges, turning what was once an endemic into a rising global health threat with an urgent call to action to prevent it from further spreading like COVID.
What is Monkeypox and Why Is It Harming the LGBTQIA+ Community?
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 among monkeys used for research. There are two known types of the Monkeypox virus, one that originated in West Africa and the other that originated in Central Africa. The West African type is said to be less severe and is the current variant or clade that is causing a global outbreak. In 2003, the first outbreak was detected outside Africa in the United States. Today, the virus has spread to more regions including Europe, Australia, and others.
This virus is causing great harm to our community as reports state that cases are more prominent in men who have sex with men. But, this is not a sexually transmitted infection and it is certainly not a gay disease. It is a virus that causes a disease that anyone can get. It can be spread or transmitted through contact with scabs, sores, respiratory droplets, or oral fluids of an infected person. It can also spread through exposure to contaminated materials like bedding and other linens.
Symptoms and Testing
The most common early signs and symptoms of Monkeypox include:
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Rash with blisters
If you or someone you know is experiencing these types of symptoms, then you should consider visiting a healthcare provider. They may take a tissue and/or blood sample to begin testing for the virus.
Remember, learning more about Monkeypox will be essential to help our LGBTQIA+ community overcome discrimination and stigma while also preventing the spread of this virus. Let us help one another through these highly challenging times through love, respect, acceptance, and support.