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Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Dr. Carissa Etienne has asserted that effective communication is critical in the battle against the spread of monkeypox while warning against stigma and discrimination in public health.
Addressing a recent press briefing, Etienne observed that in too many countries across the Americas LGBTQ+ communities face stigma and discrimination, impacting their health and well-being.
Thus far, most confirmed monkeypox cases are among men who have sex with men.
But Etienne told the press briefing that stigma has no place in public health.
” It prevents those at risk from accessing information, getting tested, or seeking medical attention when they show symptoms,” she explained.
“If we aren’t proactive in overcoming these barriers, monkeypox will spread in silence,” she warned.
The PAHO Director advised countries to leverage their HIV/AIDS experience and establish active awareness campaigns, using pragmatic, honest, targeted messages, so that everyone knows how monkeypox is spread, how to identify specific symptoms and when to seek medical attention.
“Beyond communication, surveillance and testing are our best allies against monkeypox,” Etienne explained.
In July, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.