Monkeypox: No reason to cancel Pride events, health experts say
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reassured Pride organisers that celebrations should not be impacted by the monkeypox outbreak.
WHO’s Europe director, Dr Hans Henri Kluge, urged organisers not to let fears around monkeypox impact events at a briefing on Tuesday (15 June), adding that Pride could be an excellent opportunity to share important public health messaging.
Kluge said: “WHO and health partners are reaching out quickly to communities, event organisers and dating apps to provide clear information to raise awareness about monkeypox infection and strengthen individual and community protection.”
Steve Taylor, board member at EuroPride, attended the briefing. He said that organisers of the 750 Pride events happening across Europe this summer would welcome the advice, saying: “We are reassured by the clear statement from WHO those major events including Pride should not be cancelled or curtailed because of the outbreak.”
Taylor added: “We have been working with WHO over recent weeks to develop our messages and we will encourage Pride organisations and event producers across Europe to use their events to raise awareness of the facts about monkeypox so that people can protect themselves.”
Though anybody can acquire monkeypox, so far the current outbreak is being detected mostly among queer men. But experts are clear that it is not a “gay disease”.
“Transmission is not exclusive to gay and bisexual men, it just happens that it has entered this network,” Mateo Prochazka, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the UKHSA, previously told PinkNews.
Despite WHO giving the green light for Pride to go on, some anti-LGBTQ+ groups have tried to rationalise their vitriol by maintaining that queer people are the reason for monkeypox and Pride events should not be banned.
“Sadly, but entirely predictably, some of those who oppose Pride and who oppose equality and human rights have already been attempting to use monkeypox as a justification for calls for Pride to be banned,” Taylor said at the WHO briefing.
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He echoed Kluge’s hopes that Pride events could be an opportunity to engage queer communities and make them aware of monkeypox, how it’s spread and what its symptoms are.
According to WHO, monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin contact. As of Thursday (16 June) there are 524 cases in the UK, according to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Symptoms of monkeypox include high temperature, lesions on the body, muscle aches, exhaustion and headaches as per the NHS.
If a person suspects they have monkeypox Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at UKHSA, says: “Self-isolation is an important measure for protecting others from monkeypox.
“Staying at home and doing all we can to avoid close contact with other people in the household will prevent the spread of this virus. We know that self-isolation is not easy for some so it’s important that people ask for support if needed.”
WHO has announced it will rename monkeypox to lessen stigma around the virus.