“This outbreak can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals inform themselves, take the risk seriously and take the steps necessary to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups. The best way to do this is to reduce the risk of infection. means making safe choices for yourself and others.
“For men who have sex with men, for now, this includes reducing the number of sexual partners, reviewing sex with new partners, and sharing contact details with any new partners to ensure follow-up if needed,” Tedros said. at the briefing.
While Tedros said the focus of all countries should be on engaging and empowering communities of men who have sex with men to reduce the risk of infection and transmission, he also urged countries to protect human rights.
“Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus,” he said.
Monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but most people who have contracted it in the US have recently reported some level of sexual activity, Dr. Demeter Daskalakis, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff member working on the monkeypox response, told CNN. this month. This may include penetrative encounters as well as oral sex.
The virus spreads primarily through physical skin-to-skin contact, but it can also be spread by touching objects such as sheets or towels that may have been used by someone with monkeypox, as well as through close face-to-face interactions such as kissing .
Tedros’ comments about reducing the number of sexual partners are among the strongest on the subject. Other WHO messages have not been characterized as harshly.
Health officials in the US have also recommended reducing the number of sexual partners, but have used milder language.
“Avoid skin-to-skin contact, including intimate contact, with people who have a rash similar to monkeypox. Other harm reduction measures include minimizing sexual activity with multiple or anonymous sexual partners,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. July.
Daskalakis reported last week: “According to our harm reduction guidelines, thinking about reducing your number of partners, potentially trying to avoid anonymous contact, ends up being smart in terms of reducing the risk of infection.”
The CDC also says that people may want to minimize skin contact as much as possible by having sex with clothing on or after covering areas where the rash is present. If they decide to have sex with someone who has or may have been exposed to monkeypox, they should talk about the virus beforehand.
Another thing people can do to protect themselves is to avoid close face-to-face contact, such as kissing, with those who are clearly infected.
Scientists are still studying how monkeypox spreads during this outbreak, but they say people don’t get sick, say, after walking past someone or hugging them and touching a lesion on their skin.
“If it’s a hug that doesn’t necessarily include a shirt, there’s a theoretical risk of transmission, but that’s not what we’re hearing in terms of what’s going on with our cases, so it’s a lower risk. I can’t say it’s zero. risk,” Daskalakis said.
Rather, it is the longer contact that seems to be responsible for most cases now. “If you were to ask me what the length of ‘long’ is, I wouldn’t be able to answer that question, but it seems possible that this isn’t rendered by the light brush,” Daskalaskis said. “Really speaking, skin-to-skin contact of any type can theoretically transmit monkeypox, but we see that you need to work on that a bit.”
CNN’s Jen Christensen contributed to this report.