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CDC: Monkeypox disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic people

Even though monkeypox is disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men and Black and Hispanic people, health officials stress anyone can get the virus.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — A new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows monkeypox is disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men (MSM), and Black and Hispanic people.

According to the CDC, there were 2,891 monkeypox cases reported in the U.S. through July 22. Among those cases, men accounted for 99%, and 94% of those men reported recent male-to-male sexual or close intimate contact.

The same report shows Hispanic and Black people make up a disproportionate share of monkeypox cases compared to their share of the U.S. population.

White people account for the majority of monkeypox cases at 41%, while Hispanic people make up 28% and Black people stand at 26%. 

However, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics only make up 18% of the U.S. population and Black people account for 13%.

In the report, the CDC says "public health efforts should prioritize gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, who are currently disproportionately affected, for prevention and testing, address equity, and minimize stigma, while maintaining vigilance for transmission in other populations."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the U.S. monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency earlier this month. As of Tuesday, there are more than 11,000 monkeypox cases in the U.S, including 1,945 cases in California and 93 cases in Sacramento County.

The LGBT Community Center in Sacramento continues to support the health and wellness of the most marginalized. The center is partnered with the Sacramento County Department of Health Services to regularly provide monkeypox vaccination clinics. The goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible, but supplies are limited.

"No one wants to get monkeypox," said Alexis Sanchez (she/her/hers), Director of Advocacy & Training, LGBT Community Center. "We're seeing 150 to 200 people during the clinic. Usually, the line will wrap around our center with people waiting to get vaccinated."

Even though monkeypox is disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men and Black and Hispanic people, health officials stress anyone can get the virus. Doctors say all people who are eligible should get the vaccine.

"The vaccines are in limited supply," said Dr. Dean Blumberg, UC Davis Health. "So, right now, they're being focused on groups with high risk of infection. The main way to prevent monkeypox is to avoid prolonged skin to skin contact with people who are potentially infectious."

The CDC describes monkeypox as a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. People with monkeypox usually get a rash that may be on or near personal areas. It could also be on or near their hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. 

Other symptoms can include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headache, and respiratory symptoms, like a sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough.

The CDC offers the following monkeypox prevention steps:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox. Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox. Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used. Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox. Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

For more information about monkeypox, visit the CDC website. To learn more about monkeypox vaccination clinics in Sacramento County, visit the Sacramento County Department of Health Services website.

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