Activist community

The New 988 Suicide Lifeline Seeks to Meet the Unique Needs of the LGBTQ Community

What does it say? Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it?

Once again, the United States is repeating the mistakes made during the COVID-19 pandemic and the AIDS epidemic.

It has been two months since the first US patient with monkeypox was identified. There are now 1,900 cases that we know. The nation’s capital, Washington, DC, rule the country in case per capita. The opportunity to contain the virus is receding.

The country needs a quick but comprehensive response. We need more vaccines. We need uniform standards and clearer rules for testing and treatment. Trust leaders need to fight myths. And people need to get vaccinated, especially those most at risk.

Testing standards are inconsistent, for example, an issue that echoes what happened at the start of COVID-19. There are not enough vaccines and we are not allocating them to the hardest hit areas. Even our technology is not good. Vaccine seekers have come across websites down just like they did at the start of the COVID vaccine rollout. And, as noted by AXIOSalthough there is an effective, FDA-approved antiviral treatment, patients can only get it if they enroll in “an expensive 120-page protocol for expanded access to experimental new drugs.”

We know what will happen if we don’t do things right. We have been living this reality for two and a half years.

Let me be clear, though. Monkeypox is not COVID-19[FEMININEIlnesepropagepasaussifacilementqueleCOVIDpuisquegénéralementlatransmissionnécessiteuncontactpersonnelouintimeCefaitestdenotrecôté(Lesscientifiquesn’ontpasexclulatransmissionparvoieaériennecependantcesconseilspourraientêtremisàjouraufuretàmesurequenousenapprendronsdavantage)Commel’aadmisleministèredelaSantédelavilledeNewYork”denombreuxcasnesontpasdiagnostiqués”Cesinconnuessontdessignesd’arrêtSilapropagationparvoieaérienneestconfirméeous’ilestdécouvertquedesporteursasymptomatiquespeuventpropagerleMonkeypoxlapropagationduMonkeypoxserabienpirequecequenousanticiponsactuellementNousenapprenonsencoresurcettenouvellesoucheviraleNousdevonsnousensouvenir[FEMININEIlnesepropagepasaussifacilementqueleCOVIDpuisquegénéralementlatransmissionnécessiteuncontactpersonnelouintimeCefaitestdenotrecôté(Lesscientifiquesn’ontpasexclulatransmissionparvoieaériennecependantcesconseilspourraientêtremisàjouraufuretàmesurequenousenapprendronsdavantage)Commel’aadmisleministèredelaSantédelavilledeNewYork”denombreuxcasnesontpasdiagnostiqués”Cesinconnuessontdessignesd’arrêtSilapropagationparvoieaérienneestconfirméeous’ilestdécouvertquedesporteursasymptomatiquespeuventpropagerleMonkeypoxlapropagationduMonkeypoxserabienpirequecequenousanticiponsactuellementNousenapprenonsencoresurcettenouvellesoucheviraleNousdevonsnousensouvenir

As we did at the start of the AIDS epidemic, we also have a media problem. In the early 1980s, the public was led to believe that AIDS only affected men who have sex with men. This message created the stigma and fear associated with AIDS. The results were catastrophic.

As pediatric emergency physician Vinay Kampalath wrote in New statistics, “Pathogens do not discriminate like humans do – they have no innate ability to discern race, sexual orientation, religion or nationality.” Whether you are gay, straight, or bisexual, if you are in close contact with someone with monkeypox, you are at risk. Even so, it took the Center for Disease Control and Prevention until this month to update its guidelines to state, “Anyone who has been in close contact with someone with monkeypox can get the disease.”

Right now, however, not everyone has the same statistical chance of contracting the virus because the virus is more prevalent in some communities than others. So while we need to be careful not to reinforce stigma, we need to target relevant messaging to the people and places most at risk. And right now it seems to be trans men and women having sex with men.

We can tailor monkeypox awareness campaigns and focus resources on certain groups of individuals most affected while educating the general public. As the virus spreads and vaccines become more available, public and private vaccination campaigns must target people of all racial and ethnic orientations and backgrounds. Ultimately, if someone doesn’t see themselves in a public health campaign, they won’t be protecting themselves.

While government officials pull themselves together, Americans must take charge of their own health. Like COVID-19, we can reduce the spread with a dose of common sense and personal responsibility. Here is what you can do:

  • Register to get vaccinated;
  • Contact your health care provider if you develop rashes or abnormal lesions;
  • Avoid sexual contact if you have flu-like symptoms (COVID is always a risk);
  • Avoid sexual activity or physical skin-to-skin contact if rashes or lesions are detected;
  • Because sheets can be contaminated, sleep in another room if your partner is infected
  • Cover lesions; and
  • Stay informed.

A great way to stay informed is to join DC Health, the Washington Blade and me for a special Monkeypox Town Hall Monday, July 25e at 7 p.m. at the Eaton. I will moderate a panel of experts to answer your questions. Join us.

Dr. N. Adam Brown is a practicing emergency physician, founder of a healthcare strategy advisory group ABIG Health, and professor of practice at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. Previously, he served as President of Emergency Medicine and Director of Impact for a leading national medical group. Follow him on Twitter @ERDocBrown.