As monkeypox cases continue to rise in Ireland and worldwide, MPOWER and Man2Man are holding an online community discussion with regard to the virus. The event will be broadcast live on GCN’s Facebook and YouTube channels on Wednesday, July 27, as a part of In & Out.
‘Monkeypox Outbreak – A Community Discussion’ will be an opportunity to gather together as a community to learn about the current situation and ask questions about the response in Ireland. Throughout the stream, leaders in public health and infectious disease will be on hand to answer queries. As well as this, gay men that have had the virus will share their lived experiences, and tips on how to care for one another while navigating this outbreak will also be discussed.
Among those participating in the livestream are Dr Natasha Rafter – Specialist in Public Health Medicine with the HPSC, Professor Fiona Lyons – Medical Director and Clinical Lead of Sexual Health in the HSE, MPOWER Programme Manager Adam Shanley, and various other community members.
Monkeypox was formally declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday, July 23, with “more than 16,000 reported cases from 75 countries and territories and five deaths”. It is hoped that the statement from WHO will increase investment in vaccines and treatments of the disease which to date has disproportionately affected gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) July 23, 2022
In a recent positive development, the European Medicines Agency approved a Danish monkeypox vaccine for use across the EU. Bavarian Nordic, the biotech company responsible for the Imvanex jab, announced the news over Twitter on Friday, July 22.
The HSPC to date has been notified of at least 69 confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland, and ACT UP Dublin has called upon the Irish government to begin the rollout of the vaccine. Similarly, HIV Ireland issued a statement on Tuesday, July 26, urging the government to “meet monkeypox challenge ‘head on’.”
HIV Ireland Board Member and Consultant in Infectious Diseases at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Prof Paddy Mallon said: “That the WHO has now designated monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern underlines the seriousness with which this current widespread outbreak should be viewed.
“In Ireland, key priorities must include increasing awareness within the community in general about the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, accurate information on how it can be transmitted, and expanding access to testing and increasing availability of vaccination, which remain key components to the control and hopefully eradication of this infection,” he added.
Speaking ahead of the community discussion, Adam Shanley commented: “We have done a lot of heavy lifting informing gay and bisexual men about monkeypox, however there are tools known to be effective in preventing onward transmission that we don’t yet have access to. As gay and bisexual men, we have a long history and strong legacy of banding together in times of adversity, and our community discussion is an example of that – we are mobilising our peers in the face of this new challenge.
“We have an opportunity to contain the spread of monkeypox, but it requires an immediate coordinated vaccination programme that prioritises those in our community most at risk of acquiring the virus,” he continued.
To hear all of these developments discussed in more detail, join the conversation by tuning in to ‘Monkeypox Outbreak – A Community Discussion’ streaming live on GCN’s Facebook page and YouTube channel from 6PM on Wednesday, July 27.
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