Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, commended the Biden Administration for declaring the monkeypox virus (MPV) outbreak a national public health emergency while noting that more needs to be done to ensure equitable access to vaccines and treatment.
“Declaring MPV to be a public health emergency is a crucial step forward in sounding the alarm and bringing much-needed urgency to the federal response,” said Torrian L. Baskerville, director of HRC’s HIV and Health Equity program. “The window for immediate action is rapidly closing. We expect that the CDC, HHS, FDA and the White House will use this emergency to leverage every resource at our nation’s disposal to combat the virus. Communities across the country are in desperate need of more vaccines, increased and easier access to testing, more direct health care provider training, and funding for state and local health departments and sexual health clinics to effectively treat their patients. It’s imperative that we prioritize outreach to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals to ensure equitable access to vaccines and treatment by partnering with community organizations and health clinics. A public health response that does not center equity is a failed public health response.”
HRC has been closely monitoring the monkeypox outbreak, especially as the virus spreads primarily among gay, bisexual and transgender men, and transgender women. According to the CDC, as of August 3, there were 6,617 confirmed cases of MPV in the U.S., though this number is likely an undercount due to limited access to testing.
In an effort to get accurate and timely information to the LGBTQ+ community, HRC launched a resource page that lays out what the virus is, how it spreads, symptoms to watch for and current vaccine information, among other crucial information based on CDC and HHS guidance. MPV is a rare but potentially serious, viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms, accompanied by a rash, which may look like pimples or blisters. This virus can be transmitted to anyone, anywhere through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.