ATLANTA, G.A, July, 2022 — Stop HIV Atlanta, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing queer-centric resources and education to halt the HIV crisis in Atlanta, announced its new newsletter to offer coverage on the risks and effects of the novel monkeypox virus in particularly vulnerable populations. As a non-profit serving the metropolitan area, Stop HIV Atlanta seeks to use this newsletter as part of its comprehensive breadth of resources for queer folk living in the city.
Below, folks seeking Stop HIV resources can learn general information about monkeypox as of July 2022. Stop HIV Atlanta continuously monitors the current monkeypox outbreak. Yet, as the virus progresses, this information may become outdated.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is caused by infection of the monkeypox virus, which comes from the same family as the variola virus. The source of the virus remains unknown, but it was first identified in humans in 1970. Monkeypox is a relatively rare disease that is usually not fatal.
Monkeypox spreads through person-to-person contact in several ways. Close, skin-to-skin contact is currently the most common method of transmission. According to the CDC, some common transmission scenarios include:
- Touching fabrics, objects, or surfaces previously used by someone with monkeypox
- Contact with bodily fluids and secretions, rashes or scabs that are a result of monkeypox
- Affectionate physical touch, such as hugging or kissing
- Oral, anal, vaginal sex or contact with the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus of a person with monkeypox
What are some common monkeypox symptoms?
Some folks may experience different symptoms than others. On average, symptoms begin to develop within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. Some common symptoms include the following:
- Rashes located on or near the genitals, anus, hands, mouth, chest, feet, or face
- Rashes that resemble blisters or blemishes, or that go through various stages of healing (scabbing)
- Flu-like symptoms that include fevers, headaches, muscle aches, sore throats, backaches, coughs, swollen lymph nodes, chills, or exhaustion
If someone starts to experience any of these symptoms, they should seek guidance from a medical provider.
What is the status of monkeypox infections in the state of Georgia?
The current amount of confirmed monkeypox cases in Georgia is 132. Across the United States, there are almost 2,000 confirmed virus cases.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, most cases in Georgia have affected men in metro Atlanta who have sex with other men.
How can someone lower their risk of contracting monkeypox while having sex?
Someone looking to minimize the risk of contracting monkeypox should foster an open dialogue with their partners about any unusual symptoms or signs of the virus. If you or your partner is sick, it is advised not to share items used during sex, such as sex toys or fetish gear.
If someone’s sex partner contracts monkeypox, avoiding physical and sexual contact is advised. However, there are other ways to enjoy sexual acts with a consenting partner, even when symptoms of monkeypox are present. Some ways to lower the risk of contracting it during sex are:
- Covering areas where monkeypox is present (note: if monkeypox is present in the genitals, using condoms or other barrier methods may not fully prevent transmission)
- Avoiding kissing
- Sanitizing hands, sex toys, fetish gear, and surfaces after sex
- Masturbating together with at least 6 feet of distance
- Engaging in virtual sex
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with monkeypox, share the news of your diagnosis with anyone you have had close personal or sexual contact within the last three weeks.
About Stop HIV Atlanta:
Stop HIV Atlanta is a non-profit organization offering educational resources to prevent the propagation of HIV in disproportionately affected communities. We provide inclusive, zero-judgment information and resources to those seeking access to HIV services in Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Cobb Counties. The testing, prevention (PrEP), and treatment resources we refer to interested parties are always confidential and secure. Learn more about our mission and services by visiting www.stophivatl.org or emailing us at [email protected].