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USA. The authorities are concerned about cases of abuse in the LGBTQIA+ community

Anyone can contract monkeypox, but in the latest outbreak, the virus is spreading mostly among gay and bisexual men. US authorities said on Monday that most of the victims reported some level of sexual activity.

That doesn’t mean the virus is sexually transmitted, but officials say it shows that prolonged physical contact is one of the main ways the monkey spreads.

As of Monday night, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted 1972 probable or confirmed cases of the disease in the country.

Right now, the risk is low, according to the CDC, but public health experts say there are still steps people can take to protect themselves, especially if they’re at the highest risk.

That pool includes gay and bisexual men, especially those who have had multiple sexual partners in recent weeks in an area with known cases of monkeypox.

How is the disease spread?

Symptoms usually begin within three weeks of exposure to the monkeypox virus and last two to four weeks. The virus usually causes a rash with lesions that can be extremely painful. The pain can be enough to send some people to the hospital, but rarely.

The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to other parts of the body, the CDC says. Some people may also have a fever at first.

A person with the disease can spread the virus to others at any time until the rash has healed and a new layer of skin has covered the affected area.

The virus is primarily transmitted through close, skin-to-skin physical contact, but it can also be spread through objects such as sheets or towels that may be used by a person with monkeypox, and through face-to-face interactions. like kisses.

some differences

The latest outbreak looks a little different, according to Dr. Demetri Daskalakis, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. The disease is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but recently, most people with it in the United States have reported some level of sexual activity.

Investigation of a case of monkey pox in Fiocruz. / Photo: Josué Damacena/IOC/Fiocruz

“Some people have had a rash all over the body or in different parts of the body, but there are many who have genital and rectal lesions as the first sign of the disease,” Daskalakis said.

The virus could theoretically be transmitted through respiratory droplets, he said, but the CDC doesn’t see that happening in this outbreak. “I cannot prove how effective it is. It doesn’t seem to be very effective. So it’s more skin-to-skin contact than face-to-face.”

“When discussing harm reduction, it’s really important to say what we know and what we don’t know,” Daskalakis said. “It’s important for people to know that it’s not impossible to transmit smallpox in this way from monkeys, so that they actually adapt behavior as needed.”

parties and bars

Scientists are still studying how monkeypox spreads in this outbreak, but they say people don’t seem to get sick after, say, walking past or hugging someone.

“If it’s a hug that doesn’t necessarily involve a shirt, there’s a theoretical risk of transmission, but that’s not what we’re hearing about in these cases, so it’s a lower risk. I can’t say zero risk,” said Daskalakis.

Instead, longer contact now seems to account for most cases. “If you ask me how long is ‘long,’ I can’t answer that question, but it seems like it might not be conveyed through a short meeting,” Daskalaskis said.

A large dance party that can attract thousands of men and last for a night or weekend can be a way for the virus to spread. Dancing at a well-ventilated party without coming into contact with someone with visible injuries is likely to be low-risk. If there is a party after sex, it is much more risky.

Enclosed spaces, such as saunas or sex clubs, where there is often anonymous contact with multiple partners, are more likely to spread chickenpox, the CDC says.

Test tubes with labels on a monkey / 05/23/2022 REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustrated photo

The typical gay bar where people go to hang out is different. “What is socialization a part of? [pessoas LGBTQIA+] to do So I don’t think that’s what we should stop. It’s just important to be aware of how the virus is transmitted and to be aware of how to mitigate that risk,” said Daskalakis.

how to protect yourself

Researchers are also looking into whether the virus can be transmitted by someone who has no symptoms or through semen, vaginal fluids and feces, according to the CDC.

The center says condom use can help, but alone is unlikely to protect against the spread of chickenpox. The agency, however, still emphasizes that condoms can prevent other sexually transmitted infections.

There is a vaccine available to protect against monkeypox, but current demand far outstrips supply.

One thing people can do to protect themselves until access improves is to avoid contact with those who are clearly infected, especially close personal contact such as kissing.

“Consistent with our harm reduction guidance, considering reducing the number of partners you have, any attempt to avoid anonymous contact is ultimately smart in terms of reducing your risk of exposure,” Daskalakis said.

The CDC says people may want to minimize skin-to-skin contact by wearing clothes or covering areas where the rash is present during sex. If you choose to have sex with someone who has or may be exposed to monkeypox, talk about the virus beforehand.

Officials also say to keep in mind that their advice may change as scientists learn more. That can change if chickenpox starts to spread through other contact, such as when people live together or when they play full-contact sports.

“I think the bottom line is that it’s good to have some awareness and some concern about some of these things, but it’s not paralyzing,” Daskalakis says. “Realistically speaking, skin-to-skin contact of any variety could theoretically transmit the disease.”

This content was originally created in English.

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