“This is an epidemic that can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals educate themselves, take the risk seriously and take the necessary steps to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups. The best way to do this is to reduce the risk of exposure. means making safe choices for yourself and for others.
“For men who have sex with men, this includes, for now, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering sex with new partners, and exchanging contact information with any new partners to allow a follow-up, if necessary,” Tedros told a briefing.
While Tedros said all countries must focus on engaging and empowering communities of men who have sex with men to reduce the risk of infection and transmission, he also warned nations to protect human rights.
“Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus,” he said.
Monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but most people who have contracted it in the United States have recently reported some level of sexual activity, Dr. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working on monkeypox response. this month. This can include penetrative encounters as well as oral sex.
The virus is primarily spread through physical skin-to-skin contact, but it can also be transmitted by touching objects like sheets or towels that may have been used by someone with monkeypox, as well as through close face-to-face interactions. like kisses.
Tedros’ comments on the reduction of sexual partners are among the strongest to date on the issue. Other WHO communications have not been characterized as precisely.
Health officials in the United States also advised to reduce sexual partners, but used softer language.
“Avoid skin-to-skin contact, including intimate contact, with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox. Other harm reduction actions include minimizing sexual activity with sexual partners multiple or anonymous,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in mid-July.
Daskalakis advised last week: “In line with our risk reduction advice, thinking about reducing your number of partners, potentially trying to avoid anonymous contact ends up being smart from an exposure risk reduction perspective. “
The CDC also says people might want to reduce skin contact as much as possible by having sex with clothes on or after covering areas where the rash is present. If they choose to have sex with someone who has monkeypox or who may have been exposed to it, they should talk about the virus beforehand.
Another thing people can do to protect themselves is to avoid close face-to-face contact, such as kissing those who are clearly infected.
Scientists are still studying how monkeypox is spreading in this outbreak, but they say people don’t seem to get sick after, for example, walking past someone or giving them a hug and touching a lesion on their skin .
“If it’s a hug that doesn’t necessarily include a shirt, there’s a theoretical risk of transmission there, but that’s not what we mean in terms of what’s happening with our cases, so it’s a lower risk. I can’t say zero risk,” Daskalakis said.
On the contrary, longer contact seems to be responsible for most cases now. “If you asked me how long ‘long’ is, I can’t answer that question, but it seems like it might not be conveyed by a light brush,” Daskalaskis said. “In reality, skin-to-skin contact of any variety can theoretically transmit monkeypox, but what we’re seeing is that it kind of has to work a little bit.”
CNN’s Jen Christensen contributed to this report.