The White House’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci advised against making the same assumptions about the current monkeypox outbreak that were made during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Fauci and H. Clifford Lane, deputy director for clinical research and special projects at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), published a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday in which they reflected on the similarities between the monkeypox outbreak and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which both men spent much of their careers studying.
The two researchers noted the obvious similarities, namely that most monkeypox cases have so far been detected among men who have sex with men. While the main mode of transmission for monkeypox is believed to be through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, they observed that some early data has suggested sexual transmission may play a role in the spread of the virus.
Don’t assume: “Given how little we know about the epidemiologic characteristics of the current outbreak, it is prudent to heed an observation made during the first year of the HIV/AIDS pandemic: ‘… any assumption that it will remain restricted to a particular segment of our society is truly an assumption without a scientific basis,’” Fauci and Lane wrote.
Black and Hispanic people bearing brunt of monkeypox cases: analysis
Black and Hispanic people make up a disproportionately high number of monkeypox cases, according to a new analysis.
The analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that Black people make up 26 percent of monkeypox cases, compared to 12 percent of the population, while Hispanic people make up 28 percent of cases compared to 19 percent of the population.
The data, from May to July, indicates that racial disparities are an issue with monkeypox, as they have been in the COVID-19 pandemic as well.
“Underlying structural inequities place people of color at increased risk for public health threats, as was seen in COVID-19 and as is beginning to be observed amid the MPX outbreak,” the analysis states. “Early and intentional efforts will be key to minimizing and preventing disparities going forward amid the MPX outbreak and for future public health threats.”
Almost all of the monkeypox cases so far have been reported among men, at 99 percent, and 94 percent reported recent sexual or intimate contact with other men, the analysis noted.
Therefore, the analysis also noted that in addition to racial disparities, “addressing challenges that include homophobia, stigma, and discrimination will be key given the disproportionate impacts among men who have sex with other men.”
Difficulty accessing vaccination has also been an ongoing concern with monkeypox. While data is limited, four states — Georgia, Colorado, New Jersey and North Carolina — and Washington, D.C., are reporting racial data for monkeypox vaccination, showing disparities there as well, the analysis found. It found that in D.C., for example, Black people have received 22 percent of vaccines but make up 36 percent of cases.
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