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The World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended that gay and bisexual men cut back on the number of sexual partners to reduce the spread of monkeypox, after the WHO’s monkeypox expert, Rosamund Lewis, noted that men who have sex with men are the group with the highest risk of infection right now, CNBC reports.

Illustration via opindia.com

Around 99% of cases are among men, while 95% of those are men who have sex with men, Lewis added.

For men who have sex with men, this includes for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering considering sex with new partners, and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow up if needed,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who added that it’s critical for public health authorities to communicate to the gay community in order to reduce the transmission of the virus.

“For men who have sex with men, this includes for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering considering sex with new partners, and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow up if needed,” he said.

Tedros also called on social media platforms to counter ‘harmful information’ about the outbreak.

The stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus and can fuel the outbreak. As we have seen with Covid-19 misinformation, and this information can spread rapidly online,” he said, without providing examples.

More than 18,000 monkeypox cases have now been reported across 78 nations, according to WHO data. About 10% of monkeypox patients have been hospitalized to manage pain from the disease. Five deaths have been reported in Africa, according to the WHO.

The WHO declared a global health emergency in response to the outbreak over the weekend as cases have rapidly increased. The current outbreak is highly unusual because the virus is spreading widely in European and North America where the virus isn’t normally found. Historically, monkeypox spread at low levels in remote parts of West and Central Africa where rodents and other animals carried the virus.

Europe is the currently the epicenter of the global outbreak, reporting more than 70% of monkeypox cases. About 25% of monkeypox cases have been reported in the Americas, with the U.S. the center of the outbreak in the Western Hemisphere, according to WHO and CDC data. -CNBC

There have been over 3,500 cases reported in the US across 46 states, DC and Puerto Rico, according to the CDC.

A health worker walks inside an isolation ward built as a precautionary measure for the monkeypox patients at a civil hospital in Ahmedabad.(AFP)

Monkeypox is primarily spread through skin-to-skin contact during sex. According to the WHO’s Lewis, the virus will have an opportunity to continue spreading if people don’t limit the number of sex partners and anonymous sexual contact.

“If there’s no intervention in a circumstance where there’s a lot of skin-to-skin contact on a regular basis, perhaps in the context of multiple partnerships or contact with anonymous partners, then that would be a circumstance, without intervention, where the virus can spread more easily,” he said.

In the past, people infected with monkeypox passed the virus on to less than one other person on average, which is the reason why previous outbreaks did not spread as widely. But Lewis said an individual with monkeypox might be able to pass the virus on to more people now because global immunity has waned as smallpox vaccination has become much less common. Monkeypox is in the same family as monkeypox, though it causes milder disease. -CNBC

“The critical piece is really focusing in on close, intimate personal contact, prolonged contact that happens during sex as the key mode of transmission,” said Andy Seale, an advisor to the WHO who specializes in STIs.

“It’s very important for anyone who has monkeypox to isolate, so that they can protect anyone else living in their household or anyone else they may be in contact with,” said Lewis.





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