May 9, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. — As the nation marks the one-year anniversary of the mpox outbreak on May 18, the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, release a new brief that outlines the lessons learned and calls for urgent action to prevent a resurgence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 30,000 cases of mpox, formerly known as Monkeypox, in the U.S. and 42 deaths. Only 1% of these cases were reported through April of this year. While many people may perceive that the outbreak is over, health officials in Chicago, for example, recently identified seven new cases.
As mpox cases have primarily been diagnosed in gay and bisexual men, as well as other men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender individuals, the authors are urging affected communities and public health agencies at the local, state, and national levels to take swift action with the LGBTQ+ Pride season fast approaching.
The brief, Community Partnerships Make Public Health More Effective: Learning from the 2022 Mpox Outbreak Response, recommends the following actions:
- Establish community-led vaccine promotion and education efforts, emphasizing the need for individuals to receive the second dose of the mpox vaccine for adequate protection. To date, only 62% of first-dose recipients have received their second dose, which is essential for protection.
- Legitimize sexual pleasure to promote sexual health while offering harm reduction strategies that give individuals the tools to reduce the risk of mpox infection and increase access to treatment, if needed.
- Ensure equity in a comprehensive syndemic response to overcome entrenched inequities observed among Black men and other people of color who have been far less likely to access mpox vaccination even when they may be at heightened risk.
- Create sustainable community partnerships by developing funded opportunities with community-based organizations, event planners, and social media influencers so health departments can quickly respond to future infectious disease outbreaks.
“During the mpox outbreak, the LBGTQ+ community did what they always do—stepped up and responded to the community’s needs despite limited or no public support,” said Jeffrey S. Crowley, director of O’Neill’s Infectious Diseases Initiative. “However, when public health officials partnered with LBGTQ+ community leaders to provide vaccines and education during large community events and amplify their voices, we witnessed a highly effective response to the outbreak. Moving forward, this type of collaboration must be executed to prevent and contain the spread of the virus.”
“As the one-year mark of the mpox outbreak approaches, we must prioritize the needs of the LBGTQ+ community and take action on these recommendations,” emphasized Gregorio A. Millett, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. “When 87% of mpox deaths are among Black men and virtually all cases have occurred in people with HIV (94%), it’s clear that both of these populations need more intensive attention and resources to strengthen these communities and prevent a mpox resurgence in 2023.”