WHO addresses monkeypox concerns ahead of Pride season

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued advice concerning festivals and mass gatherings in light of the escalating cases of monkeypox.

WHO have issued statements in support of LGBTQ+ Pride in light of monkeypox outbreak. The photograph shows young people walking under a giant Pride flag from behind.
Image: Mercedes Mehling via Upsplash

In a press briefing on Monday, Andy Seale, a strategies adviser in the WHO Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes addressed concerns over Pride events in light of the rise in monkeypox cases saying, “It’s important that people who want to go out and celebrate gay pride, LGBTQ+ pride, to continue to go and plan to do so.”

He continued, “There is no specific transmission route that we need to be worried about. It really is connected to the fact there have been a couple of events that have perhaps amplified the current outbreak.”

Speaking on why Pride would prove different he stressed, “We don’t see any real reason to be concerned about enhanced likelihood of transmission in those contexts, because the parties that we’ve been referring to have perhaps been more in enclosed spaces.”

He was also keen to emphasise that the virus is non-discriminate, “this is not a gay disease, the transmission routes are common to everybody. The advice is pretty much the same for all people.”

In a subsequent statement released yesterday, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe echoed Seale’s assurance that the virus is “not a gay disease”. 

“We must remember, however, as we have seen from previous outbreaks, that monkeypox is caused by a virus that can infect anyone and is not intrinsically associated with any specific group of people.” 

He went on to commend the community for its proactive approach to sexual health. “The gay and bisexual communities have high awareness and rapid health-seeking behaviour when it comes to their and their communities’ sexual health. Indeed, we should applaud them for their early presentation to health-care services.”

He did however highlight that the majority of cases diagnosed in the last two weeks have arisen in Europe pointing out, “Based on the case reports to date, this outbreak is currently being transmitted through social networks connected largely through sexual activity, primarily involving men who have sex with men. Many – but not all cases – report fleeting and/or multiple sexual partners, sometimes associated with large events or parties.”

Dr. Kluge was slightly more reserved in his advice on mass gatherings saying “The potential for further transmission in Europe and elsewhere over the summer is high. Monkeypox has already spread against the backdrop of several mass gatherings in the Region.” 
He continued, “But they also provide powerful opportunities to engage with young, sexually active and globally mobile persons to raise awareness and strengthen individual and community protection.”

If you have concerns regarding monkeypox or any other sexual health issues visit HSE.ie.

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