The UN AIDS agency on Sunday called some reports of the monkeypox virus racist and homosexual, warning to increase the stigma and reduce the response to the growing outbreak.
UNAIDS says a recent “significant proportion” of monkeypox have been identified between homosexuals, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men.
However, the infection is most likely to occur through close physical contact with a monkeypox infected person and can affect anyone, he added, adding that some depictions of Africans and LGBTI people “reinforce homosexual and racist stereotypes and increase stigma”.
As of May 21, the World Health Organization has reported 92 laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases and 28 suspected cases from 12 countries where the disease is not endemic, including several European countries, including the United States, Australia and Canada.
Matthew Kavanagh, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, said: “Stigma and guilt undermine the confidence and ability to respond effectively to such outbreaks.”
“Experience has shown that scandalous speech can quickly disable evidence-based responses by stifling cycles of fear, diverting people from health care, hindering efforts to identify cases, and encouraging ineffective, punitive measures.”
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue, and chickenpox-like rashes on the hands and face.
No treatment exists, but symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks. The disease is considered endemic in 11 African countries.
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