There are now more than 150 cases of monkeypox in Georgia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s nearly 50% off just last week.
Infectious disease doctors say gay men are still the most affected by this virus; However, Audrey Washington Channel Two I spoke to metro health officials about why this is not just a gay disease.
Doctors have told Washington that the vaccine is available in metro Atlanta, but it is still relatively limited.
Most of the clinics in the metro area were set up specifically to vaccinate men who have sex with other men. According to the CDC, this group is the most at risk.
Larry Walker knows how quickly monkeypox virus can spread.
He is the director of THRIVE SS, an Atlanta-based organization that provides support to black, gay, and bisexual men living with HIV.
“They’re living with a virus unfortunately,” Walker said. “I know some people who currently own it.”
Walker said he is disturbed by the large number of people in the gay community who have tested positive for monkeypox.
“It’s very scary to see the pictures and hear from the people who suffer from them,” Walker said.
The CDC just confirmed that there are now nearly 160 cases of monkeypox in Georgia and more than 2,500 cases nationwide.
“Transmitted through open lesions, touching, mucous membranes, or large droplets,” said Dr. Jonathan Colasanti, MD, medical director of the Infectious Disease Program at Grady Health System at Ponce de Leon Center.
He said that although we’re seeing higher cases within the gay community, monkeypox isn’t just about men who have sex with other men.
“I think it’s really important not to color this as gay disease or gay disease. Anyone can get it,” Colasanti said.
Walker agrees, saying it’s important not to stigmatize people with the virus.
“It’s a skin disease. There’s no such thing as gay skin or straight skin. But I feel it’s irresponsible. It creates a bunch of unnecessary stigmas on same-sex people,” Walker said.
His focus now is on ways to prevent spread. Both Walker and Colasanti say it starts with taking the proper precautions.
It’s important for people to “raise their radar if partners develop a rash,” Colasanti says.
“We all have a responsibility in terms of preventing the spread of this disease,” Walker said.
The US Department of Health and Human Services is providing thousands of additional vaccines to Georgia.
Anyone at risk is urged to get the vaccination.
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