According to the BAG, cases of monkey pox occurred mainly in men who had sex with men. After initial hesitation, the campaign began.BAG and partner organizations’ campaign for the spread of monkey pox on Instagram is available in four languages. – Screenshot of Instagram
basic information at a glance
- Monkey pox infections appear to be especially common among homosexual men.
- Individual countries clearly refer to risk groups.
- After initial hesitations, FOPH launched a targeted prevention campaign.
It is still unclear why there is now an increased incidence of monkey pox infection outside the commonly affected countries in West and Central Africa. Already last week, health authorities in various countries said that the patients were almost exclusively male. The WHO puts it this way: mainly, but not limited to, men who have sex with men.
Do we need a monkey pox campaign for homosexuals?
The phrase “men who have sex with men” or MSMS is also commonly used in STD prevention campaigns. Because it includes not only homosexuals but also bisexuals. Above all, however, heterosexual men who have intermittent sex with other men, i.e. only to a limited extent, engage in the gay scene.
The latter group has already been the focus of the FOPH HIV / AIDS campaigns. However, no monkey pox prevention campaign is currently planned, as was said last week on demand. Information in the community has taken place, and community-specific research and treatment centers are sensitized and very well prepared. The BAG website provides constantly updated information that is understandable for the public.
The Germans are directly addressing gays
However, different countries with monkey pox prevention work differently. In a speech at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach addressed the MSM directly. In the same sentence, however, he warned against stigmatizing these groups. But this is exactly what experts fear and warn of counter-effects: out of fear of insults, people with symptoms would not see a doctor at all.
The US CDC epidemiological authority has even felt obligated to explain to the population that heterosexuals can also become infected. Finally, viruses do not discriminate between the sexual preferences of the hosts.
Monkey pox: a tightrope walk in a prevention campaign
It is clear from the BAG that a large proportion of the cases to date in Europe have been with MSM. However, monkey pox is not actually an STD. And: “So far, there is no evidence that the monkey pox virus is transmitted via semen or vaginal secretions.”
This was the reason homosexuals did not need a special campaign against monkey pox until the weekend. Because: “Precautions must be known and followed by everyone.” But shortly thereafter, FOPH, along with the Swiss AIDS Federation and its social partners, launched an offensive on social media.
Criticism of the BAG campaign
The return carriage did not wait long. BAG also has the gay organization Pink Cross on board. The title of the message is “Monkey Pox: No Stigmatization of Gay and Bisexual Men.” But the criticism of dealing directly with the homosexual risk group has come up on several levels.Criticism of the BAG monkey pox campaign – zvg / Screenshot Twitter
To start with, the monkey emoticons aren’t really helpful in taking the disease seriously. But the missing vaccine and the unapproved drug against monkey pox are arguably the more important approaches now. There is also concern that such a campaign would contribute to stigma. The impression is that in the future monkey pox can only occur in gays.
GLP national councilor Katja Christ also sees this danger and expects a response from the Federal Council. He doesn’t understand why the federal government sees an increased risk of MSM due to the first four cases. Health Minister Alain Berset is to comment on the risk of stigma through federal communication. Because unlike the European health authority, BAG analyzes: “MSM now appears to have an additional risk of infection.”
Alain Berset Federal aid for fear of monkeys WHO GLP physician