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The Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), noting nearly 5,300 monkeypox cases across 18 countries and territories in the Americas, has cited the potential for stigma, homophobia, and discrimination.
Dr. Mary Lou Valdez told a press briefing last week that nearly all monkeypox cases continue to be reported among men who have sex with men between the ages of 25 and 45 years.
But Valdez explained that anyone – regardless of gender or sexual orientation, can get the disease.
She disclosed that PAHO is working with civil society and LGBTQ+ communities to alert at-risk groups about monkeypox symptoms and to provide information about how they can protect themselves.
“And as we engage with our LGBTQ+ communities, I want to caution countries about the potential for stigma, homophobia and discrimination that can impede our public health responses, just as we saw with HIV,” the PAHO Deputy Director stated.
According to Valdez, the pattern of monkeypox transmission offers a unique opportunity for countries to work closely with affected communities to ensure people know how to protect themselves and what to do if they exhibit symptoms.
However, she noted that, unfortunately, early reports show a lot of confusion surrounding monkeypox.
“That’s why clear communication is more important than ever before,” Valdez stated.
And she disclosed that PAHO is presenting daily updates to its Member States and has issued guidance for health workers to manage monkeypox cases and prevent further infections,