UNAIDS warns against homophobia and racism

UNAIDS warned on Sunday that the homophobic and racist slippages sometimes observed in comments on the disease “Monkeypox” (the monkeypox, in French), could “rapidly undermine the fight against the epidemic”.

A significant proportion of the hundred cases of Monkeypox confirmed by the WHO or national health authorities, concern gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, notes UNAIDS, while specifying that the disease caught by having close contact with a person who has the disease and “can therefore affect everyone”. “These stigmas and blame undermine trust and the ability to respond effectively to outbreaks like this,” said Matthew Kavanagh, Deputy Director of UNAIDS.

The UN agency – which is based on a long experience with AIDS – believes that this type of rhetoric can very quickly neutralize efforts based on science and facts to fight the disease.

These racist or homophobic attacks “create a cycle of fear, which causes people to avoid health centers, which limits the scope of efforts to identify cases of infection and encourages ineffective coercive measures”underlines the person in charge.

Monkeypox, a less dangerous cousin of smallpox, eradicated for about forty years, first results in a high fever and quickly evolves into a rash, with the formation of scabs, especially on the face. There is no treatment but this viral infection heals itself.

At least a dozen European countries as well as Australia, Canada and the United States, countries where its presence is unusual, have reported cases of monkeypox. It is normally present, considered “endemic”, in 11 African countries.

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