By: The Editors – nationalreview.com – August 22, 2022
The evidence keeps piling up: Monkeypox is a disease that affects gay, sexually active men far more than any other group of people. As in, 99 percent of all cases are in men, and 94 percent of those infected reported recent same-sex intimate contact. Additionally, nearly three-quarters of the cases among men were from those who had two or more partners in the three weeks prior to the onset of symptoms.
Articles in peer-reviewed journals also suggest that intercourse between men is the primary way the disease is spread. Scientists are calling on public-health authorities to change their guidance and prioritize gay men in their mitigation efforts.
But if you go to the CDC’s website right now, you can read:
At this time, data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of cases in the current monkeypox outbreak. However, anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.
A different page on the CDC’s site obscures the risk by highlighting vaginal contact and also says that “a pregnant person can spread the virus to their [sic] fetus through the placenta.”
While it is of course possible that the disease could evolve and spread differently over time, right now it is an outbreak with 99 percent of cases in men (who are overwhelmingly highly sexually active), and the CDC is using gender-neutral language to warn the public about it. Ninety-four percent of those men had same-sex intimate contact before contracting it, and the CDC is warning about contact with female sex organs just as much as male sex organs.
Not one person in America is well served by this nonsense.
The vast majority of the general public simply is not at much risk of catching monkeypox. There are any number of rare diseases circulating at any given time, and to worry about all of them would be paralyzing. Public-health authorities should be making clear that most people are at negligible risk of catching monkeypox, and they ought to go about their lives as they please.
The people who are at highest risk, gay men, aren’t well served by this either. They need to be informed of the risks they face and the treatments and vaccines available to them. By making it sound like a general problem, the CDC is effectively downplaying the risks to gay men specifically.
And the public-health establishment isn’t helping itself. It looks foolish to deny what is right before everyone’s eyes, and it’s hard not to conclude that the failure to do so is for any reason other than identity politics.
We get it: It’s uncomfortable to talk about sex. But when you sign up to work in public health, sexually transmitted diseases are part of the package. Progressive public-health officials have long been pushing up against the taboos surrounding sexuality in public discussion, yet when there’s an outbreak of a potentially deadly disease spread almost entirely through intimate contact between gay men, they’re loath to even utter the word “sex.”
There’s hardly any reason for most Americans to even know about monkeypox. The sensationalist mainstream media latched onto it in the aftermath of Covid, likely for its evocative name and nasty symptoms. But it should have been the job of public-health officials to correct that impression from the news, not equivocate about it. Sure, it’s true that monkeypox can be spread in ways other than gay sex, but when almost every case known to exist is in men who recently had sex with another man, focusing on the edge cases when talking to the general public is doing everyone a disservice.
Public-health officials have work to do to regain at least some of the trust they squandered during the Covid pandemic. By continuing to play leftist language games around monkeypox, they are only confirming for many Americans — even many left-leaning Americans — that a particular brand of progressive politics has subsumed public health, and the people who are supposed to help keep them safe from disease outbreaks are closer to university administrators than they are to medical professionals.
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