The spread of monkeypox, particularly among men who have sex with other men, worries LGBTQ+ associations. They ask the government to extend preventive vaccination to all men who have sex with other men, but also to sex workers. These populations represent the majority of infected people, although cases have also been detected in immunocompromised and a few children. “We must be able to offer a pre-exposure vaccination, before coming into contact with the virus.press Franck Barbier, course and program manager at Aides.
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The High Authority for Health (HAS) was seized on Monday July 4 to issue an opinion on this subject. For the moment, the HAS only recommends the vaccination of contact cases, in particular health professionals, if possible within four days after exposure to the virus. “It’s far from enough, that’s what we’ve been saying for 40 years for AIDS, for two years for Covid”gets carried away Marc-Antoine Bartoli, coordinator of Act-up Paris, historical association of fight against AIDS.
“There is an explosion of cases, a lack of information, a lack of prevention, a lack of doses”, warns the activist. More than 6,000 cases have been recorded worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) tally as of July 6. The number of people infected increased by more than 50% between June 22 and June 30. The WHO will again convene its Emergency Committee to judge the seriousness of the health crisis. “The situation will spiral out of control in the days or even weeks to come if nothing is done.”underlines Marc-Antoine Bartoli who says “angry” against the French health authorities.
As with the vaccine against Covid-19, this preventive vaccination would allow “a reduction in the severity of the disease and a reduction in transmissions”, explains Franck Barbier. There is not yet a specific vaccine against monkeypox, it is a vaccine against smallpox which is injected. The UK already recommends vaccinating all men who have sex with multiple men. In the United States, more than 50,000 doses of vaccine were distributed in particularly affected areas, from the end of June.
The Observatory of Transparency in Medicines Policies (OTMEeds) wonders about the reasons for this delay in ignition in France, the number of doses available and the location of stocks. “This silence is particularly worrying, because during the first wave of the Covid-19 crisis, the executive had been led in April 2020 to lie about the interest of the mask and the screening so as not to have to publicly admit that the stocks had been squandered”reports OTMeds.
For more efficiency, LGBTQ+ associations want these vaccines to be available outside of hospitals. “It is necessary to try to vaccinate in the community sexual health centers, in the CeGIDD [Centres gratuits d’information, de dépistage, et de diagnostic par les virus de l’immunodéficience humaine, des hépatites virales et des infections sexuellement transmissible]because they are structures on the ground that are familiar with the exposed populations and their way of life”explains Erwann Le Hô, coordinator of the LGBTQIA + Center of Côte-d’Azur and vice-president of the regional coordination committee for the fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
This is all the more important as symptoms of monkey pox (fever, severe headache, muscle aches, back pain, rash, lesions, etc.) can be confused with those of other STIs. “Patients will therefore go where they usually go in the event of an STI”that is to say the CeGIDD or community sexual health centers, underlines Franck Barbier of Aides.
Pending the expansion of vaccination, associations and public health authorities call for vigilance. It is necessary to monitor the appearance of symptoms, to isolate oneself and to consult a doctor in the event of contamination. Erwann Le Hô even recommends avoiding multiple sexual partners for a while.
The associations ask the health authorities to target a population, in this case men who have sex with men and sex workers, but they also want to avoid any stigmatization. “When you stigmatize someone because he is sick, you ostracize him from society and that does not encourage treatment or entering into a circuit of prevention”, says Erwann Le Hô. According to the coordinator of the LGBTQIA+ Center of Côte d’Azur, “the first serious cases of monkeypox were wandered from place to place and faced quite strong stigma and homophobia. A face with dark marks that are starting to appear, it reminds us of the first hours, the dark hours of AIDS in France.”