San Francisco

SF's LGBTQ Community on Alert After Monkeypox Cases Linked to Pride Parties

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A second case of monkeypox has been tied to recent Pride celebration in San Francisco.

While it’s rarely deadly and very treatable, for some members of the gay community, it brings back memories of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

“This community knows about STIs very well and when a new one pops up, we take it very seriously and there’s an immediate call to action,” said Josh Zelenka of San Francisco. “I think it’s something that we will stride with as it goes and people seem to be aware of it.”

Two new cases are from people who attended parties during Pride weekend: Burning Man’s Afterglow party, and Electrolux.

The attendees are being put on alert and being encouraged to get tested and get vaccinated for monkeypox if they can get an appointment.

Monkeypox is transmitted mainly through skin to skin and sexual contact. It may sound and look frightening but it is very rarely fatal.

“Monkeypox is not a disease that’s going to kill people – there are rare fatalities reported. But it’s much more like having a rash illness that hurts and basically you’ll be isolated for a couple days or a couple weeks until the lesions scab over,” said Dr. George Rutherford of UCSF.

While there are many hundreds of cases in the gay community in Europe, there have been fewer than two dozen cases of monkeypox in San Francisco so far. And community leaders are certain the LGBTQ community has learned from its history.

“Since we’re a very alert community because of HIV and AIDS for 40 years I think if it becomes more serious people will take action to get vaccinated if it’s available,” said Gary Virginia, LGBTQ community leader.

Dr. Rutherford said that vaccine is available through San Francisco public health for people who’ve been exposed to monkeypox and he says it’s a good vaccine. 

You could get it within four days of exposure and it can prevent you from getting infected at all. 

If you get it within 14 days, it can greatly reduce the severity of symptoms.

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