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Will monkeypox become another COVID or HIV?

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Will monkeypox become another COVID? The answer is no.

Although monkeypox has been reported in over 20,000 people in over 75 countries, and the World Health Organization has called it a global health emergency – they delayed much longer with COVID – nevertheless, it there are definite reasons to believe that it doesn’t have nearly the same potential as COVID.

For one thing, monkeypox doesn’t spread as easily and it can be identified by a characteristic pustular or blistering rash, which usually occurs three days after the onset of flu-like symptoms. Isolation of those affected and tracing their contacts is imperative and much easier to achieve than with COVID, which often spreads asymptomatically and has become more transmissible with each emerging omicron subvariant.

Tubes labeled “Monkeypox Virus”, with results marked, are shown in this illustration taken May 23, 2022.
(Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

Will monkeypox become another HIV? The answer is again a resounding no.


Although monkeypox is spreading in gay and bisexual male communities, more than 99% of those who have contracted it so far are men who have had sex with other men, according to the CDC, and although numbers are clearly underestimated, much as was the case for HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, with the risk of community spread in both cases, there are key differences.

For one thing, we already have an effective vaccine against monkeypox, and we still don’t have one against HIV. On the other hand, for anyone over the age of 50 who received the old smallpox vaccine before 1972, there is likely to be at least partial protection against monkeypox. Such protection does not exist for HIV.

And we have an effective treatment for monkeypox, tecoviramat (TPOXX), when it took more than a decade for truly effective treatments to be developed for HIV. Granted, TPOXX, although we have over 1.7 million doses in national stockpile, has been approved for use in smallpox based largely on animal data, but it probably works against smallpox as well. monkey.

What monkeypox shares with HIV is the danger of stigmatization of the group that spreads it the most. Stigma still impedes public health education and interventions. It doesn’t matter what name we call the disease or whether we call it a national emergency or not, what matters is that we provide the Jynneos vaccine, TPOXX, and appropriate testing to everyone who needs it.

We are way behind where we should be because federal, state and local health departments underestimated the risk at least initially. The CDC now has its emergency operations center for monkeypox, and health and human services have purchased more than 7 million doses of the vaccine. More than 300,000 doses have been shipped so far and another 700,000 doses are on the way, although it is clear the vaccine will remain in short supply for months.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a legal state of emergency on Thursday, July 28, 2022, in the face of the growing number of monkeypox cases in the city.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a legal state of emergency on Thursday, July 28, 2022, in the face of the growing number of monkeypox cases in the city.
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)


In New York, several hospitals have still not received their initial allocations. We can all remember the frustrations with the limited supply of the COVID vaccine at the start of 2021, and we are currently facing the same problem with monkeypox.

In fact, it looks like we’ve learned some of the wrong basic lessons from COVID and applied them to monkeypox. Fear and political postures again dominate and take the place of tools and supplies. Instead, the medical community must rise up, care for and protect those who are sick and those most at risk.

Ultimately, we need enough vaccines immediately for all gay and bisexual men, and we need to quickly accumulate enough human data for the use of TPOXX so that the FDA can grant it clearance for use. monkeypox emergency. With five companies expanding production of monkeypox tests, 70,000 a week, as the CDC promises, is still not enough to properly trace and control the outbreak.


I have dealt with outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics throughout my medical career. From HIV to swine flu to COVID, I have tried to provide for my patients, differentiating only on the basis of need. Doctors are not the problem. The problem is over-promising the tools we need for our patients while too much political posturing camouflages the shortages.

A virus does not know political correctness, it will infect everyone it can reach. If we’ve learned one thing from COVID and the uneven public health response, it’s that fear of a virus is not an effective motivator or tool to prevent the spread. Sanctions-driven shutdowns or fear-fueled mandates ultimately failed to prevent the spread of COVID and many other public health issues arose as a result of these interventions.

Unlike HIV and COVID, monkeypox does not usually appear deadly or make its victims very sick. But the rash can be painful, so I’m pushing hard to get more treatment available.


Fear of the horrific monkeypox rash makes the public believe the disease is more deadly than it actually is. Yet it is spreading rapidly here in the United States, with more than 5,000 cases reported today, up from 300 a month ago. And the actual numbers are far greater.

We have the tools to beat it. We just need to get them into the right hands in time.



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