The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday advised men to consider reducing their sexual partners for a moment after the UN health agency declared the growing monkeypox outbreak among men who have sex with men.
“For men who have sex with men, this includes, for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering sex with new partners and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow-up, if needed,” he said at a briefing.
Ghebreyesus revealed the figures of COVID concentration among men and said that there is 98 per cent of such cases and this is the reason WHO recommend that the country should take action to reduce the risk of transmission to other vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant women and those who are immunosuppressed. While Tedros said the focus for all countries must be on engaging and empowering communities of men who have sex with men to reduce the risk of infection and transmission, he also cautioned nations to safeguard human rights.
“The stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus,” he said. According to Dr Demetre Daskalakis, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official working on the monkeypox response, monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease but people who have tested positive in the US had some level of sexual activity. That can include penetrative encounters as well as oral sex, CNN reported.
Primarily, the virus is used to spread skin-to-skin and can also be transmitted by touching objects like sheets or towels that may have been used by somebody with monkeypox, as well as through close face-to-face interactions like kissing. According to the CDC, the researchers are investigating whether the virus can be spread by someone who has no symptoms or through semen, vaginal fluids and faecal matter. CDC further said that condoms alone cannot protect against the spread of monkeypox.
However, the agency still emphasizes that condoms can prevent other sexually transmitted infections. Tedros’ comments about reducing sex partners are among the strongest yet on the matter. Other WHO communications haven’t been characterized so sharply.
“Reducing your number of sexual partners may reduce your risk,” one of the WHO flyers reads as CNN reported. “How can I protect myself?” another said adding, “To catch monkeypox, you need skin-to-skin contact, including during sex, with someone infectious or their contaminated belongings. To reduce the risk of contracting monkeypox: practice safer sex, keep your hands clean.”
“Remember that close physical contact, including sex, may increase your risk of exposure. Having multiple and frequent sexual contacts, including with anonymous partners, may put you more at risk of infection of monkeypox. To protect yourself practice safer sex,” a third WHO flyer advises. Health officials in the US have also advised reducing sex partners but used softer language, according to CNN.
“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 multiple or anonymous sexual partners,” CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said in mid-July.