WHO urged to rename ‘stigmatizing’ monkeypox

NEW YORK CITY: New York City on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to rename the monkeypox virus to avoid stigmatizing patients who may then be waiting for treatment.

New York has seen more cases of the disease, which the WHO has declared a global health emergency over the weekend, than any other city in the United States, with 1,092 infections detected so far.

“We are increasingly concerned about the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on…already vulnerable communities,” said New York Public Health Chief Ashwin. Vasan, in a letter to the director general of the WHO. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus dated July 26.

The United Nations health agency had floated the idea of ​​changing the name of the virus, which is linked to the eradicated smallpox virus, at a press conference last month – a proposal mentioned by Vasan in his letter.

He referred to “the painful and racist history in which terminology like [monkeypox] is rooted for communities of color.”

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The New York official highlighted the fact that monkeypox did not actually come from primates, as its name might suggest, and recalled the negative effects of misinformation at the start of the HIV epidemic and the racism faced by Asian communities, exacerbated by former President Donald Trump calling Covid-19 a “Chinese virus”.

“Continuing to use the term ‘monkeypox’ to describe the current outbreak may rekindle these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma, especially for black people and other people of color, as well as members of LGBTQIA+ communities, and it it is possible that they may avoid engaging in life-saving health care services because of this,” Vasan said.

LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual.

Anyone is susceptible to contracting monkeypox, which has long been endemic in central and western Africa, but so far its spread in Europe and the United States has been mainly concentrated among men with sexual intercourse. sex with other men.

Early symptoms may include fever and fatigue, followed a few days later by a rash which may develop into painful, fluid-filled skin lesions, which may last for a few weeks before scabs off which then fall off .

No deaths have been reported so far in Europe or America.

More than 16,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in 75 countries so far this year, the WHO said on Monday.

A limited number of doses of a smallpox vaccine that protects against monkeypox, called Jynneos, have been given in New York, mostly to gay and bisexual men.

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