“I had an open wound for five days with clear mucus coming out and then bleeding,” Jake explains.
“It was almost impossible to sit and walking was very painful. Defecation was pure pain, but my body forced me to do it eight or nine times a day. Every one of those days was a bloodbath.”
In late July, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that there are 32,000 cases worldwide, mainly in Europe and the United States, with cases rising in South America, Southeast Asia, the western Pacific and the eastern Mediterranean. .
The virus was first reported in humans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970 (hence the name), after being identified in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958. However, there are hardly any cases detected in Europe before 2021.
Its low incidence recently means that little is yet known about its transmission pending further investigation. This period of uncertainty is similar to the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, groups across the political spectrum are calling for action against a disease that is “causing genuine fear and anxiety” in gay communities and widespread homophobic stigma.
Although anyone can get monkeypox, including children, 98% of current cases are in sexually active gay or bisexual men. This was confirmed by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has advised men to reduce their number of sexual partners while health officials manage the outbreak.
Gay men have been subjected to an unfair stigma about sexual involvement for decades, particularly during the AIDS epidemic, and the uncertainty surrounding the rise of monkeypox bears clear parallels to those who remember the height of that crisis. Huh.
For this reason, activists say it is important that messages about monkeypox and vaccination are handled sensitively to avoid spreading stigma against the LGTBIQ+ community.
“We must calmly and responsibly acknowledge that this current outbreak of monkeypox is primarily affecting gay and bisexual men,” says Greg Owen, head of pre-exposure prophylaxis at the Terence Higgins Trust.
“We have to recognize that it is also mainly spreading through skin-to-skin contact, mostly during sex. There is nothing wrong in saying so. Not doing so would be a problem.”
Aaron Tulune, 35, a training coordinator working with HIV/AIDS charity Positively UK, contracted a severe case of monkeypox in June.