On Thursday, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that looked at monkeypox infections in 16 countries between April and June, when cases began to appear in countries outside of Africa.
The study reported 528 infections diagnosed between April 27 and June 24, 98 percent of which were in gay or bisexual men with an average age of 38. Of these, 95 percent of the infections are suspected to be sexually transmitted—and also infected. 41 percent are HIV positive.
Disease experts and officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) don’t consider monkeypox a sexually transmitted disease, but they’ve always said it can be transmitted through intimate contact, such as sex. It can also be spread by close contact and even infected clothing and bedding.
Until this year, monkeypox virus infection in humans was rare outside of Africa, where the virus is endemic but mostly spread from animals. But there are now more than 16,000 cases worldwide in countries that have not historically had monkeypox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most cases appear to be in North America and Western Europe, with some of the first cases being linked to major LGBT events in Spain and Belgium, which are ground zero for facilitating transmission of the virus.
The leading theory among pathologists is that the monkeypox virus was sexually transmitted in those events.
The slight increase in recent US cases indicates that transmission occurred at the end of Pride Month in late June and early July, based on the study finding that the incubation period ranged from three to 20 days (usually seven days).
Former Trump health officials blame the CDC
CDC officials have been reluctant to recommend canceling US LGBT marquee events, similar to the super-widespread events in Europe that occurred the previous month.
Organizers of LGBT events have been cautiously going in the spring, wanting to avoid stigmatizing the LGBT community. US health officials chose instead to promote targeted messaging to warn gay and bisexual men, who were considered most at risk.
Dr. Paul Alexander, a health official and former researcher in the Trump administration, says officials should have done more.
“All this was required was telling the leadership no skin-to-skin contact, no anal sex, no sex, nothing for a few weeks, and we were going to help this high-risk group, but no, it’s political games and now the low-risk heterosexual population” is at risk. Especially from bisexual males,” Alexander wrote in a blog post.
The blog post also included a Twitter thread for a gay American man detailing his experience with monkeypox during an orgy in Palm Springs.
Alexander expressed concern that bisexual men could facilitate the spread of the monkeypox virus outside the gay community to homosexuals. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it knew of eight cases in women and two new cases in children – one in a toddler and one in an infant, BBC News reports.
“Heterosexuals can spread this if one of the partners becomes infected and there has been rough sexual practice that involves tearing tissue,” Alexander added.
He continued, “It’s not about being homosexual, the virus is transmitted in the body fluids and infected blisters and lesions in the infected person, through any lacerations on the skin or tissues such as micro-lesions in the rectum and so on.” If heterosexuals engage in anal sex and one of them develops monkeypox or the other [sexually transmitted disease]The other will become infected if there is a tissue rupture.”
Although monkeypox infections generally go away within two weeks without the need for medical treatment, some have been hospitalized with severe anal pain, severe sore throat, and severe kidney injury.