World

WHO chief advises men who have sex with men to reduce sex partners to avoid monkeypox

The World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Wednesday advised men who have sex with men to reduce their sexual partners for a short while as monkeypox cases have continued to spread worldwide.

While speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Tedros urged those at risk to take the necessary steps to avoid contracting the illness. “This is an outbreak that can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals inform themselves, take the risk seriously and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups. The best way to do that is to reduce the risk of exposure. That means making safe choices for yourself and others,” Tedros said.

He added, “For men who have sex with men, this includes, for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering sex with new partners and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable followup, if needed.”

This announcement comes after the U.N. health agency and WHO declared monkeypox a global emergency. According to the CDC, more than 21,000 monkeypox cases have been recorded in at least 78 countries.

WHO reports that around 98% of the monkeypox cases detected since May have been among gay or bisexual men who have sex with other men. However, Tedros warned that “the stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus. As we have seen with Covid-19 misinformation, and this information can spread rapidly online.”

According to Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, the virus primarily spreads through “direct contact, close contact, skin to skin contact, possibly even face to face contact, exposure to droplets or virus that may be in the mouth.” It can also spread through contaminated fabrics, such as clothing or bedsheets.

Andy Seale, a WHO adviser specializing in sexually transmitted infections (STI), said that while monkeypox is “clearly transmitted during sex,” experts have not yet decided if it would be considered an STI.

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: PBS.ORG

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