Monkeypox is unlikely to turn into another pandemic, but much is still unknown about the virus, including how exactly it’s spreading currently, the World Health Organisation stressed during a recent event. Regardless of one’s sexual orientation, anyone is at potential risk for the disease. However, accidentally the disease was first picked up in gay and bisexual men, and it could quickly spill over into other groups if it is not curbed.
“At the moment, we are not concerned about a global pandemic,” WHO’s Dr. Rosamund Lewis. “We are concerned that individuals may acquire monkeypox infection through high-risk exposure if they don’t have the information they need to protect themselves.” Accordingly, the UN health agency has recently issued an important public health advisory for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Here is all that you need to know:
How does monkeypox spread?
You can catch monkeypox through close physical contact with someone who has symptoms. The rash, bodily fluids (such as fluid, pus or blood from skin lesions) and scabs are particularly infectious. Clothing, bedding, towels or objects like eating utensils that have been contaminated with the virus from contact with an infected person can also infect others.
Can monkeypox spread through sex?
Monkeypox can spread through close skin-to-skin contact during sex, including kissing, touching, oral and penetrative sex with someone who has symptoms. Monkeypox rashes are sometimes found on genitals and in the mouth, which is likely to contribute to transmission during sexual contact. Mouth-to-skin contact could cause transmission where the skin of mouth lesions are present.
Avoid having close contact with anyone who has symptoms. Its currently not known whether monkeypox can be spread through semen or vaginal fluids. People who have symptoms should avoid sexual contact with others and until we know more, they should continue using condoms after they recover. It can also spread through other types of close contact, not just sex.
Some cases in this outbreak have been identified among communities of men who have sex with men. Why is this?
Monkeypox is spread from person to person through close contact. The risk of monkeypox is not limited to men who have sex with men. Anyone who has close contact with someone who is infectious is at risk.
One reason we are currently hearing reports of cases of monkeypox from sexual health clinics in communities of men who have sex with men in this outbreak may be because of positive health-seeking behaviour in this demographic. Monkeypox rashes can resemble some sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes and syphilis, which may explain why these cases are being picked up at sexual health clinics.