Monkeypox is nothing to worry about — it’s highly contagious and doesn’t kill — but it does have some new aspects worth exploring. The virus is an old acquaintance and has never managed to spread beyond Africa beyond a few cases. But the current outbreak, which began five weeks ago, has affected 2,000 people in 28 countries. London, Madrid, Lisbon, Paris and Berlin are the five European capitals concentrating the most cases, with Madrid leading the club. Why? On the other hand, and despite not being a sexually transmitted disease, 98% of monkeypox cases have been recorded in men who have sex with other men. Again why?
Data on the current outbreak, including a study by the legendary London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is still available not peer reviewed, indicate that the virus has found its way into a part of the gay community that is strongly connected through sex. For some reason, monkeypox can spread among these men more efficiently than among the rest of the population. The London team believes the outbreak will continue to escalate until its spread is contained through restrictive measures or effective information campaigns. However, each of the two initiatives is called upon to confront an irrational social response, from you don’t tell me who I fuck with to what you want is the stigma of gay people.
It’s handy to keep a cool head. We are no longer in 1980’s Philadelphia when AIDS instantly became a cross burned in the forehead of homosexuals. We learned something from this disastrous experience. No disease can carry a stigma on anyone, and as Thomas Bernhard said with characteristic hippopotamus tact, normal people usually die of horrible things. Neither the London School nor any other scholar have any intention of stigmatizing gays. What they want is to protect the most vulnerable population in the face of this outbreak, namely the very men who sleep with other men. The fear of the experts of the reaction of the activists comes to mind de facto a self-censorship that can do great damage to the communication of risks in public.
There are ups and downs in the transmission of the virus. The disease does not have to be sexually transmitted for it to spread between lovers, as sex involves close contact and the characteristic pustules of sex monkey pox, similar to those of chickenpox, which concentrate more virus and infect close contacts. Still, researchers have found viral DNA and even infectious viruses in the semen of some patients. But no one knows if this has any clinical relevance. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter either, as skin-to-skin contact can easily get the job done. The bad news is that condoms do not protect against this virus. The whole body would have to be placed in a condom to avoid transmission. Getting sick isn’t a stigma, but it does make the quality of life worse.
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