There is no need to avoid LGBTQ+ parades, said the World Health Organisation (WHO), amid the recent outbreak of monkeypox virus with over 435 cases confirmed in nearly 24 countries and seen majorly among men who have sex with men.
While the virus itself is not a sexually transmitted infection, which are generally spread through semen and vaginal fluids, the most recent surge in cases appears to have been spread among men who have sex with other men.
However, the WHO emphasised that anyone can contract monkeypox, and that it’s important to show support to the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s important that people who want to go out and celebrate gay pride, LGBTQ pride, to continue to go and plan to do so,” Andy Seale, strategies adviser at WHO’s department of sexually transmitted infections programmes, said at a WHO social media briefing.
“Most of these events – the official events – are outdoors, they’re family friendly. We don’t see any real reason to be concerned about the enhanced likelihood of transmission in those contexts.”
This comes after people showed concern for upcoming pride marches scheduled for New York on June 26 or in Berlin on July 23, among other places.
Events linked to many of the current cases took place in enclosed spaces such as nightclubs, Seale said.
“Many diseases can be spread through sexual contact. You could get a cough or a cold through sexual contact, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a sexually transmitted disease,” Seale, who advises the WHO on HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections, had said earlier.
Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.
But, the transmission is majorly occurring “through close contact for example during sexual activities amongst persons with multiple sexual partners is considered to be high,” Dr Andrea Ammon of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) noted.
However, Ammon said that the likelihood of spread is very low for the broader population.
Despite being the largest outbreak outside of Africa in 50 years, monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the WHO experts said the threat is not comparable to the coronavirus pandemic.
The WHO officials also stated that “this is a containable situation”, and “collectively, the world has an opportunity to stop this outbreak. There is a window”.