Minister of Health ‘needs to take more action on monkeypox or it will become endemic’

LGBT+ groups from across political circles have joined forces to demand the government step up efforts to combat monkeypox or the risk of it becoming ‘endemic’ in the UK.

On Thursday, the US declared a public health emergency over the virus, which in most of the cases seen so far affects gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM), following a call from the World Health Organization to last month. this is a global emergency.

UK health authorities have urged calm, but now those in Westminster have called on Health Minister Steve Barclay to take action over monkeypox “causing real fear and anxiety” in queer communities.

“We have come together as LGBT+ groups from different political parties and ask the government to treat the monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency,” letter to Mr Barclay, signed by LGBT+ groups of Conservatives, Labor, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Scottish National Party. said.

“We cannot allow monkeypox to become endemic in the UK. Fortunately, we now have the tools we need to stop this outbreak and prevent further health risks. We ask you to do so urgently.”

The letter, which was also signed by sexual health charities including the Terrence Higgins Foundation, said the government should prioritize communication and vaccinations.

“We need clear, non-stigmatizing messages delivered directly to GBMSM about the symptoms of monkeypox and what to do if you suspect you have the virus to inform and reassure people (instead of the current “general broadcast” approach in which GBMSM is constantly mentioned), said the authors, who included Luke Black of the Tories and Matthew Lloyd of the Labor Party.

“Messages need to reach communities at high risk of monkeypox through targeted messaging on apps, the web, and queer media.

“Vaccinating those most at risk of monkeypox must be a priority if we are to prevent the spread of the virus in the UK,” they added.

“We are very concerned that while mass vaccination events are a great way to build confidence that vaccines are being delivered, they can be a driver of inequality, especially in a vaccine shortage environment,” Mr. Lloyd said separately.

“It’s time to improve systems and increase procurement of this much-needed vaccine.”

The Terrence Higgins Foundation also called for improved vaccination efforts.

The head of the charity, Keri Smith, said: “We need urgent political action to deal with the rapidly rising number of monkeypox cases in the UK.

“That is why we are grateful to LGBT+ groups from different political parties who have come together to call for a public health response that is proportionate to the scale of the problem, while gay and bisexual men still make up the vast majority of cases.

“We need to greatly improve coordination, increase vaccine procurement, and improve delivery and injection of funds into sexual health services for monkeypox, which will also change the impact the outbreak is already having on STI testing and treatment, PrEP provision, and contraceptive services.”

The National Health Service announced late last month that it would step up its monkeypox vaccination program in London as more supplies became available.

Vaccine experts have recommended that homosexual and bisexual men at increased risk of contracting monkeypox receive the Imvanex smallpox vaccine.