Monkeypox Virus (MPV): Public Health Alert, Stigmatising Language Warning, and more


1. Monkeypox Virus (MPV) Infection Public Health Alert

SA Health, 21 May 2022

Monkeypox infection is caused by monkeypox virus. It is endemic in central and west Africa with cases outside Africa usually detected in returned travellers. As of 20 May 2022, 15 countries have reported 27 confirmed and 45 suspected cases of monkeypox.

Several countries have reported cases in men who have sex with men although this virus is not generally considered sexually transmitted. Two cases of monkeypox have been reported in Australia in returned overseas travellers (in Victoria and New South Wales).

Human to human transmission results from close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions (including during sexual contact) or recently contaminated objects (e.g. bedsheets).


2. UNAIDS warns that stigmatizing language on Monkeypox jeopardises public health

UNAIDS, 22 May 2022

UNAIDS has expressed concern that some public reporting and commentary on Monkeypox has used language and imagery, particularly portrayals of LGBTI and African people, that reinforce homophobic and racist stereotypes and exacerbate stigma.

Lessons from the AIDS response show that stigma and blame directed at certain groups of people can rapidly undermine outbreak response.


3. ASHM webinar on monkeypox

Australasian Society for HIV Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), May 2022

ASHM has been made aware of an increased number of cases mainly overseas (including Europe and the USA) with two confirmed cases in Australia of monkeypox, a rare zoonotic viral infection. 

From some early reports, recent cases have been detected in gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, anecdotally some presenting through sexual health services.

National guidelines and case definition are being rapidly developed and further information will be added to the ASHM website.

ASHM will be giving an update on monkeypox on Wednesday 25th May.

Webinar start times:

AEST 6:00 – 7:00 PM
ACST 5:30 – 6:30 PM
AWST 4:00 – 5:00 PM

NZST 8:00 – 9:00 PM

Available on demand: By registering, you will receive an email after the event with a link to view the webinar recording.


4. More information on Monkeypox

Various sources, May 2022

  • WHO updated page here
  • Australian Government update here
  • Victoria alert here
  • NSW GP alert here
  • NSW clinician alert here
  • Information for gay men, bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men here
Note:  Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex and contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox. (NSW Health)
By J Pope

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