Faced with the outbreak of monkeypox, the WHO on Wednesday issued a clear advice to the group most affected by the disease - men who have sex with men - to reduce the number of sexual partners.
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The best way to protect yourself “is to reduce the risk of being exposed” to the disease, explained WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press briefing in Geneva.
“For men who have sex with men, this also means, for the moment, reducing the number of your sexual partners and exchanging information with any new partner to be able to contact them” in the event of the appearance of symptoms, so that they can isolate themselves, explained Dr. Tedros, who triggered his organization's highest level of alert on Saturday in an attempt to contain the disease.
More than 18,000 cases of monkeypox have been detected worldwide since early May outside of endemic areas in Africa. The disease has been reported in 78 countries so far and 70% of cases are concentrated in Europe and 25% in the Americas, said the head of the WHO.
Five people have died from the disease - all in Africa - and around 10% of cases require hospital admission to try to ease the pain patients are experiencing.
“This message of reducing the number of partners comes from the communities themselves,” explained Andy Seale, who at WHO is responsible for getting the message across to the population that is now almost exclusively affected: that of men. rather young people who have sex with men, and in particular those who multiply the number of partners.
Andy Seale recognizes that this type of recommendation cannot be effective over a long period and also that it must be accompanied by precise information on the symptoms, tests and easy access to a doctor in case of doubt to isolate themselves as soon as possible.
Monkeypox is not currently considered a sexually transmitted disease and anyone can contract it. Direct skin-to-skin contact but also infected sheets or clothing are vectors of transmission of the disease.
The WHO also strongly emphasizes the need to avoid any stigmatization of a specific community, which could lead its members to hide the disease, not seek treatment and continue to spread it.