Monkeypox Myths: Debunked

ATLANTA, G.A, August 18, 2022 — To mitigate the HIV crisis in Atlanta, Stop HIV Atlanta provides dedicated, accessible, and sex-positive resources for queer folk living in the metropolitan areas. Our monkeypox newsletter is vital to our mission to serve the Atlanta community, arming them with reliable and up-to-date information about this virus. 

As a non-profit organization empowering at-risk communities, we know the harmful impact of misinformation and stigma. Below, we debunk some common myths about monkeypox. If you have any questions or concerns about the virus, please seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

MYTH: Monkeypox is an STD/STI

Although transmission of monkeypox can occur during sexual contact, the virus is not an STD or an STI. Using barrier methods like condoms can lessen the risk of transmission of STIs and HIV. However, monkeypox lesions can occur all over the body where traditional barrier methods do not cover. Unprotected skin-to-skin contact with these lesions is the primary form of transmission for monkeypox, whether that contact occurs during sex or not. There are ways to enjoy your sex life while reducing the risk of contracting monkeypox. 

MYTH: Monkeypox is a New Virus

Historically, monkeypox cases were rare in places like the United States, leading many to believe that monkeypox is a new virus. Yet, monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in monkey colonies, and the first human case of monkeypox was reported in 1970. Since then, most monkeypox cases were reported in central and western African countries until the recent outbreak.

MYTH: You Can Contract Monkeypox by Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine

Social media can be a haven of misinformation, including the claim that some COVID-19 vaccines (such as the AstraZeneca vaccine) caused the monkeypox outbreak. This is untrue. Vaccines use vectors from different viruses, and the one used in Covid vaccines was an adenovirus vector from chimpanzees. Monkeypox is a poxvirus. Therefore, these illnesses are unrelated. 

MYTH: Monkeypox Only Affects Gay or Bisexual Men
Anyone can contract monkeypox. Most incidents of monkeypox have been reported among men who have sex with men (MSM), including men who identify as queer, gay, or bisexual. Someone’s sexuality is not the root of transmission, and people of all sexualities and genders can contract monkeypox. The only source of contraction, as of mid-August 2022, is being in close physical contact with a person who has monkeypox or any porous item they have touched (bedding, clothing, etc.).  

MYTH: There is no way to Combat Monkeypox

Although there are no readily available or over-the-counter medications for monkeypox, there is a monkeypox vaccine being distributed in areas of Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, and Clayton Counties. As of mid-August 2022, vaccine distributions prioritize individuals in high-risk communities, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), queer men, and queer black men. Additionally, some harm reduction strategies can limit the chances of contracting the virus. If you or someone you know contracts monkeypox, easy home remedies can alleviate some infection symptoms. 

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]

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