Harm Reduction Strategies to Combat Monkeypox Transmission and Contraction

ATLANTA, G.A, August x, 2022 Stop HIV ATL is a non-profit organization dedicated to stopping the HIV crisis in Atlanta by providing sex-positive and free resources to at-risk communities. Recognizing that monkeypox treatment, information, and testing may be limited, Stop HIV aims to use this newsletter as a reliable source of knowledge for those looking to minimize the risk of transmission or contraction. 

As of August 2022, monkeypox is disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men (MSM) and others in the queer community. Because resources such as vaccination are currently limited, Stop HIV Atlanta provides information on helpful harm reduction strategies for those in circles most vulnerable to the virus. 

It is essential to clarify that monkeypox is not an STI or an STD and that the stigma against monkeypox transmissions only fuels misinformation and discriminatory practices against those at the highest risk. Read below to learn more about harm reduction strategies in the face of monkeypox.

Drug Usage 

Drug users can lessen the risk of contracting viruses such as monkeypox and HIV with the resources provided by non-profits like Stop HIV Atlanta. Monkeypox can be transmitted by touching objects used by someone who presents monkeypox symptoms. It is also common for those who are HIV positive to transmit the virus via drug-related objects such as used syringes. 

Being HIV-Positive and Contracting Monkeypox: What We Know

As of early August 2022, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is uncertain whether HIV alters a person’s risk of contracting monkeypox. However, it has been determined that those with advanced HIV (including AIDS) or untreated HIV may experience severe illness when contracting monkeypox. 

How to Use Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia Safely in the Age of Monkeypox

One of the most effective ways to stop the monkeypox outbreak is not sharing drug paraphernalia, such as syringes, bongs, spoons, pipes, etc. We recommend using your own paraphernalia or obtaining free, sanitary syringes by visiting one of the health centers across metropolitan Atlanta participating in needle exchange programs.  

Participating in Kink And Having Safer Safe 

Even in the age of monkeypox, participating in safe and consensual sexual relations is possible. Skin-to-skin contact with someone with the virus may lead to a monkeypox transmission, which is why intimate sexual contact can cause an infection. Using barrier methods such as condoms or dental dams may not cover up infected areas of the body, so here are a few additional ways to participate in safer sexual activity:

Helping Polyamorous Folk Navigate the Virus 

Polyamorous individuals face unique challenges in the current monkeypox outbreak. Those with multiple sex partners are at an increased risk of contracting the virus. Exploring your choices could reduce the chances and empower your sexual network. Communicating with your partners about any symptoms or contact with someone with the virus can help everyone involved make decisions and inform their consent. Additionally, you could also build a tight-knit network of trusted and favorite lovers to maximize the chances of transparency and proper monitoring. 

Making Kink Safer

Those interested in kink and kink spaces can still safely pursue their fetishes to minimize the risk of monkeypox infection. Those attending kink or sex raves, parties, or spaces should be aware of their risks and how to keep everyone involved safe. A way to minimize contact while exploring kinks is to discuss participating in voyeurism or becoming a voyeur. This way, you and your partners can enjoy kinks while maintaining a distance. 

With kink, communication is critical. Informing your playmates of previous exposure, your sexual network, your level of comfort, and ideas for staying safe can help you and your partners give informed consent. Additionally, you should always sanitize fetish gear, beds, linens, or surfaces where kink play or sex occurs. 

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].