Unveiling the Hidden Toll, MPOX Outbreak Exposes Stigma Faced by Gay and Bisexual Men

MPOX Outbreak Exposes Stigma Faced by Gay and Bisexual Men
MPOX Outbreak Exposes Stigma Faced by Gay and Bisexual Men. Credit | REUTERS

United States – Research conducted in the UK sheds light on the 2022 MPOX outbreak, revealing not only physical agony but also the profound prejudice and stigma experienced by predominantly gay and bisexual men affected by the illness.

Transmission and Impact

MPOX, primarily transmitted through direct skin contact, disproportionately affected men who have sex with men in Europe and the US. Despite the availability of a vaccine endorsed by the FDA, the outbreak surged, with over 32,000 cases and 58 fatalities documented in the US, and approximately 3,700 cases reported in the UK, as reported by HealthDay.

Mental Health Challenges

Dr. Charles Witzel’s research, which included in-depth interviews with 22 affected individuals, highlighted ongoing mental health struggles among MPOX patients. Media sensationalism and stereotypes intensified feelings of shame and sorrow, exacerbating the impact of homophobia and stigma encountered within healthcare settings.

Healthcare System Failures

Instances of insensitivity and inadequate support within healthcare services further compounded the distress of MPOX patients. While specialized clinics showed greater understanding, mainstream services often lacked the necessary knowledge and sensitivity, perpetuating feelings of judgment and alienation.

Call for Comprehensive Support

Dr. Witzel noted the need for community inclusion in building the needed support systems and preventive measures such as MPOX. Eliminating prejudice and building up on-line communion are primary actions that will contribute to better care and the well-being of victims, as reported by HealthDay.

Long-Term Impacts and Aftercare

Other than the physical symptoms, many patients complained of long term after-viral problems and emotional traumas. Alison Rogers emphasized the importance of continuous psychological support, acknowledging that the deep-rooted stigma, which negatively affects mental health, must be tackled by the application of an effective aftercare system.