If you've been following the news, then you'll know there's a new(ish) epidemic spreading through the world: Monkeypox (MPX). It's been particularly scary for gay men, because it's a disease that is easily spread through sex and causes lesions all over the body, which is understandably an emotional-sexual trigger for a population that has gone through almost half a century of the AIDS crisis. Unlike the AIDS scare that began in 1981, MPX is 99% non-fatal, but that doesn't mean it's a cruise in the park. From most accounts, symptomatic MPX can prove to be one of the most miserable and painful months of your life. Here's a look at what Monkeypox is, what it isn't, and what you can do about it.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus that comes from the same family as Smallpox. It was discovered in 1958 and first spread to humans in 1970. It can cause painful lesions all over your body, and is not site-specific. In other words, if you get MPX just from making out with someone who has the virus, you can get lesions all over your body, not just your mouth. From some MPX sufferers’ accounts, the anal lesions can feel like a razor blade is cutting your ass open, and no painkillers seem to be enough. MPX can be spread in one of three ways:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or lesions of someone with MPX
- Touching clothes, bedding, towels, and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions (spit, sneezes, kissing, etc.)
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
- Rashes that located on or near the genitals or asshole, but can also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth (re: non site-specific)
- The rashes will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
- The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
Because those three categories are so common during sex, Monkeypox is incredibly rapidly spread through sexual intercourse, regardless of condom use. Because of this, and because of the sexual freedom and "bar/club culture" often associated with the Queer community, gay men seem to be at a statistically higher rate at the moment. But that brings us to our next and equally important points...
Monkeypox is NOT...
Monkeypox is NOT a gay disease. It impacts everyone, and it is something the entire world needs to be concerned about.
Monkeypox is NOT a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). Yes, it's transmitted easily during sex, but that is not the same thing as an STI. It's no more an STI than the flu, but both can be transmitted easily during sex.
Monkeypox is NOT something to be ashamed of. Read that again, and really process it. Getting Monkeypox is nothing to be ashamed of. Sex positivity is a fundamental necessity in this world and in our society, and it's something that is a constant battle in a persistently Christo-Fascist country. Fuck anyone who makes you feel "less-than" in any way if you get Monkeypox. But not literally obvi... you have monkeypox; you shouldn't be fucking anyone for a little while!
There are a number of really great resources available to you for more information on Monkeypox, and how best you can treat it. To start, I recommend checking out the CDC's website and pages on MPX.
If you're looking for a great social media page to follow, @DoctorCarlton has become a viral sensation as of late for his incredibly informative videos on health/body tips for bottoms and tops, alike. More recently his page has become one of the go-to resources for people looking to learn more about the disease and how they can ease symptoms based on what his patients have told him.
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Finally, Sexual Health Specialist Grant Roth has compiled an exceptional list of resources for each state and how you can get yourself vaccinated. The vaccine is looking like it's 85% effective against the virus, so it's definitely worth the small pinch in your arm. It's a shame that IG doctors and influencers have become a better resource than the government, but this also isn't our first rodeo needing to look out for each other. That document can be found by visiting StopMonkeyPox.org.
As always make sure you stay vigilant in protecting your personal health, and make sure you look out for your friends and family (whether blood or chosen)!
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