Like COVID-19, Monkeypox is heavily affecting Bay Area Latinos. Are we ready?
The other question is about being in multi-generational households or large households, or whether you’re in a shelter or single-room hotel with other roommates. With COVID-19 we had hotels, places where people could go so they could isolate themselves safely. That should definitely be part of the discussion about what the city is offering people living in very crowded circumstances to try to limit the spread.
Second, we know that household transmission box occur. We are still trying to figure out exactly how much and think about the best ways to protect ourselves against it.
Are there any common themes about monkeypox, misinformation that you and the groups you work with regularly hear? Something that keeps popping up there that just needs to be debunked immediately?
One of the main issues that we need to continue to address is the stigma associated with [monkeypox].
Certainly, while anyone could be affected by monkeypox, we certainly find that this current epidemic primarily affects men who have sex with men, gay men, bisexual men and trans people. [We should continue] to mention that without sounding like we’re saying, “Oh, it’s a gay disease.” Continually mentioning who is most infected helps us direct resources to the community that is most affected and needs it most.
I think there are a lot of questions about how it’s transmitted. Really emphasizing right now that the predominant mode of transmission is close contact — primarily through sexual encounters — is important so people know what their risk is.
That’s not to say everyone can’t be at risk, but we need to know who is most at risk right now. And so I think the questions about transmission, risk groups and the fight against stigma are among our main priorities.
Now that the entire state of California is under a public health emergency due to monkeypox, what difference does this make to the expansion of testing and vaccination?
Declaring this a public health emergency was the right thing to do so we could have the resources to respond quickly.
I will say that I have taken care of many monkeypox patients. I am one of the clinicians who administers TPOXX for the most severe cases, and seeing patients suffer from this disease – the pain it causes – is heartbreaking.
We have tools to face this epidemic and we must do it quickly. This public health emergency is one of the pieces that will allow us to do that. We have a lot of work to do, especially to address it fairly. But it is an element to get us there.