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We’ve Had Monkeypox. This Is What We Need People To Know

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Harun Tulunat: “I was feeling like someone was ripping my flesh out of my bones."

Jake* was having an ordinary family meal with his partner and 15-year-old son when he came down with a fever. For four days he felt exhaustion and had no appetite at all, and after a few days he developed brain fog. Twenty-four hours later, an anal lesion appeared.

“It was essentially an open wound for five days which was emitting a clear mucus and then blood,” Jake tells HuffPost UK.

“It was almost impossible to sit down and moving was very painful. Opening my bowels was pure agony and my body was making me do that eight or nine times a day. Each time was a bloodbath.”

It was late July when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared monkeypox a world health emergency.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has since estimated there are more than 25,000 cases worldwide – predominately in Europe, though cases are also rising in North and South America, South East Asia, the Western Pacific and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The virus was first reported in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, having been identified in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958 (thus the name). However, prior to 2021, there had only been seven UK cases.

As of August 4, there are more than 2,700 confirmed monkeypox cases in the UK, according to government figures, with “a significant majority” of those – as many as 75% – in London.

Its prior rarity means knowledge of transmission among health experts is still patchy while we await more research – a period of stasis that echoes the early stages of Covid-19.

But this week, groups from across the political spectrum in Westminster joined forces, signing a letter to health secretary Steve Barclay calling for action on a disease that’s “causing real fear and anxiety” within queer communities.

While it’s possible for anyone, including children, to catch monkeypox, 98% of current cases are in men who identify as gay or bisexual, or men who have sex with me. This was confirmed by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, and he advised men to reduce their number of sexual partners while health authorities tackle the outbreak.

For decades, queer men have been subjected to unfair stigma around sexual promiscuity, particularly during the AIDS pandemic, and the lack of knowledge around the rise of monkeypox has obvious parallels with AIDSfor those that remember the height of that crisis.

We need to calmly and responsibly acknowledge that this current........

© HuffPost

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