It matters how we talk about monkeypox. Experts provide suggestions for lowering stigma


On July 17, informational signs are posted at a mass vaccination location for monkeypox at the Bushwick Educational Campus in Brooklyn. Getty Images / Kena Betancur remove caption

switch to caption Getty Images / Kena Betancur

On July 17, informational signs are posted at a mass vaccination location for monkeypox at the Bushwick Educational Campus in Brooklyn.

Getty Images / Kena Betancur The outbreak of monkeypox has been deemed a public health emergency in cities like San Francisco and New York state , but there is a crucial issue: how to discuss the virus in the first place.

Since May, hMPXV, often known as monkeypox, has been spreading throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 5,100 confirmed cases cases in the U.S. as of last Friday. Similar smallpox symptoms, such as a rash, fever, and headache, are brought on by the virus. It is rarely fatal and spreads by intimate physical contact.

HEALTH Even though anyone can get infected was present, guys who have sex with other men were primarily affected by appears ‘s outbreak. This has caused some public health professionals to wonder how to increase knowledge about the epidemic without repeating the early HIV/AIDS public health blunders, which included stigmatizing and discriminating against homosexual and bisexual males.

Dr. Joseph Lee, an expert in public health communications and a professor of health education and promotion at East Carolina University, said that although it is a difficult topic to have, it is crucial.

According to Lee, who spoke to NPR, “We need to ensure that we’re engaging the appropriate people in reaching the right communities and saying things in a way that resonates.” “Because the damage of doing things incorrectly is real and difficult to undo.”

EXPERTS SAY TO BE HONEST BUT TO AVOID OVEREMPHASIZING ONE GROUP’S RISK OVER ANOTHER. Focusing on how the virus affects certain communities might be fruitless and counterproductive, according to Lee.

He said that on the one hand, it makes those who are disproportionately affected feel pessimistic and less likely to seek assistance. Conversely, it leads people who have experienced less of an impact to mistakenly assume that they are less vulnerable.

HEALTH “It’s necessary to acknowledge the distinctions, but that doesn’t imply the campaign’s focus or message must be on them. It merely indicates to whom the messaging should be sent “Lee uttered.

Overemphasis can also encourage damaging prejudices and assumptions regarding the causes of the disparity.

DON’T OVEREMPHASIZE SEX ALSO WITH THAT EITHER The virus that causes monkeypox cannot be transmitted through intercourse, and therefore makes it not a sexually transmitted illness. local public health officials have debated is still debating whether to urge all males, but particularly gay and bisexual men, to avoid having sex during the current outbreak.

That advice is not only unhelpful, according to Joaqun Carcao, director of community organizing at the Latino Commission on AIDS, but it can also increase danger.

He said in an interview with NPR, “We know abstinence-only education doesn’t work for pregnancy, so why would we use it for this?” “When you say there should be no sex, you’re mischaracterizing MPV, also known as monkeypox, as a sex-associated transmission, which it can be, but it’s not the only possible way to transmit the disease.”

Carcao, who has been working to dispel myths around the virus, is also concerned that overstressing sex may lead people to completely disregard public health advice. He suggests using language such as “limit physical encounters” and “limit intimate, long-session encounters.”

PERSONALIZE YOUR COMMUNICATION FOR DIFFERENT AUDIENCES According to Dr. Tyler TerMeer, the president and CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the more general the message, the less likely it is to be understood by all audiences.

Knowing who your target is and developing a set of relatable and effective messaging are both very crucial, according to TerMeer.

Prior to this weekend’s Up Your Alley festival, a leather and fetish street carnival, the charity released an online health guide . The pamphlet provides detailed instructions on how to take part in the activity safely, including suggestions on whether to wear latex, go to bondage shows, and maintain social distance at gatherings.

TerMeer noted that it was crucial to make sure the brochure was fact-based, approachable, and sex-positive while still being realistic to readers’ reactions. If necessary, he intends to keep developing specific messaging for events in the future.

ASK PEOPLE TO REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE ACTIVE STEPS THEY CAN TAKE Experts advise against using fear-based rhetoric, particularly when it pertains to groups that have traditionally faced discrimination.

Although it’s critical to emphasize the virus’ danger, it’s also necessary to emphasize that testing and vaccines are available. In that sense, the pandemic can be controlled and prevented much more easily than the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

According to TerMeer, he thinks that once public health professionals figure out how to discuss the virus in an appropriate manner, they can concentrate on even more important problems like lowering the administrative hurdles to accessing testing and treatment.

“It’s intolerable that we still have to raise the alarm to acquire the resources we need,” he declared. Many of us are left to wonder whether it would have been treated with any greater urgency if it didn’t affect a community that has long been marginalized.