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The Risks of Monkeypox: Inflated by Misinformation?

“Look: another global health crisis. It will be over in another week though, right?”

New York reported its first case of Monkeypox in a minor on Aug. 21. This disease affects all of your body, leaving rashes and blisters all throughout your skin. Lasting anywhere from two to four weeks, there can be permanent repercussions on your health. 

Even with the glaring danger of Monkeypox, media outlets are dismissing what could be a second pandemic and are instead trying to generalize this disease as an LGBTQ+ “issue.” 

During May of earlier this year, Monkeypox cases began to be reported in the US in generally small amounts. As the summer progressed however, more and more became infected with the virus. Now, this past weekend, more than 250 people contracted Monkeypox in Los Angeles County alone. As alarming as these numbers are, the United States government has yet to make definitive efforts to help stop this outbreak. We’re too focused on finding out what is inside Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence or when the new iPhone is coming out rather than helping people at risk of this disease.  

Sure, the media does talk about Monkeypox. However, was the headline for an article about Monkeypox, from Fox News. “Florida Gov. DeSantis on monkeypox emergency declarations: ‘We are not doing fear.’”  Some of us may say, well Fox News is not a reliable source of news, but many Americans listen to this news outlet. This agency is misleading its viewers to “not panic” because the media also panicked people at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the pandemic really wasn’t that big of a deal.. Read that again. This nonchalant attitude regarding a global health issue, as with COVID, has caused the death of over a million Americans and countless more worldwide. If we don’t put a stop to Monkeypox, you’re only allowing it to keep growing and growing, and it will eventually lead to fatal consequences. 

On top of misleading its viewers, news outlets are using this disease to generate increasing amounts of anti-LBGTQ+ hate, when in reality we could all be at risk for Monkeypox. I have been scrolling various news outlets online, I have watched news programs on television, and when they cover Monkeypox issues, they all cover the same thing. Most news outlets just talk about the long lines to get a vaccine, but instead of critiquing the lack of vaccines for the virus, all they notice is who is in line waiting. Much of the  LGBTQ+ community has begun to get vaccines out of fear, because the media paints this image that only this community is at risk, generating more unnecessary hatred for the marginalized group.

According to CNN, most cases of Monkeypox have been reported in  Latino and African American men, yet barely one-third of them have access to the vaccine. Another piece of harmful misinformation about this disease is how it is transmitted between people. There is this stereotype that it is a sexually transmitted disease among gay men, but it is not. Monkeypox can be transmitted almost like a common cold. Through contact with an infected person, such as sharing items like cups or even bed sheets, anyone could be at risk. However, it is true that those in the LGBTQ+ spectrum are disproportionately impacted by the disease. The stigma around Monkeypox is similar to the one of AIDS. Through the ’80s and much of the ’90s, homosexual men were discriminated only on the basis of their sexual preference. People were misinformed about AIDS as they believed that every gay man had it, leading society to cast away most of that community. It wasn’t until Basketball player Magic Johnson announced he had AIDS in 1991 or when hip hop star Easy-E died of this disease in 1995 that people began to realize that it was not an LGBTQ+ issue, but a people issue. 

Instead of discriminating against groups based on internalized prejudice, let us treat people as people. Let us learn from our mistakes from previous global health issues and Monkeypox, together.  

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