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SHEA Statement on Monkeypox

September 07, 2022

Monkeypox is caused by a virus that can make anyone sick, regardless of age, sex, gender, or sexual orientation. The virus enters the body through close contact with skin, mucous membranes, respiratory secretions, or contaminated clothing or bedding of infected persons or animals. Symptoms may include fevers, chills, muscle aches and a rash that may be localized or spread out on the body.

At this time, men, transgender, nonbinary, and nonconforming people who have sex with men make up the majority of cases in the current outbreak, though there are increasing case numbers reported in women and children. In the United States, those identifying as ethnic and racial minorities who fall into these categories along with those experiencing homelessness are disproportionately affected.

Therefore, it is important to address equity during the public health response to this pandemic, through research to identify risk factors for transmission, and to prioritize therapeutic and preventive interventions in the communities most at risk. The use of stigmatizing language can prevent people at risk from accessing vaccines for prevention, and from seeking early diagnostics and therapeutics.

To stop the further spread of the monkeypox outbreak, SHEA encourages all providers and patients to recognize that monkeypox can infect anyone while also acknowledging that certain ethnoracial and sexual minorities are currently disproportionately impacted. SHEA encourages everyone who believes they may be infected to seek medical care. SHEA encourages everyone who believes they are at risk to seek available prevention options, including vaccination and temporarily reducing high-risk exposures. SHEA encourages all countries with the ability to produce vaccines to increase vaccine supply and to implement a comprehensive distribution approach to increase equitable global access to vaccines that can prevent monkeypox.

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