Monkeypox Cases Decline, But Caution Needed – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

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Monkeypox Cases Decline – But Caution Needed

NMAC updated us on the latest Monkeypox news, including the overall decline in cases across the U.S. that has been observed over the past several weeks. However, they warn that cases are still rising in some areas – and demand for the vaccine has declined, possibly because of lower numbers of cases. New efforts are taking a more targeted approach of using different community avenues to reach Black and Latinx sexual minority men, who are most at risk; to that end, the update also included information on emerging research regarding disparities. 

Gay, Bi Men Have Mixed Response on Monkeypox

On that same subject, Pew Research Center published research finding that gay and bisexual men were cooler to the government’s efforts to address the Monkeypox epidemic than was the general public. Only 34% of gay and bisexual men thought that the government has done a “good” or “excellent” job so far, compared to 49% who said it was “fair” or “poor;” the general public had about the same percent who thought that the government had done well, but had many more people still undecided on the government’s response. This makes sense given that the survey also found that sexual minority adults were more tuned into the Monkeypox epidemic, with 40% saying they had heard a “great deal” or “quite a bit” about it compared to 29% of straight adults. 

Online Hate Puts Pressure on Care

VICE reported on the rise of false and misleading attacks on social media against health centers that provide gender-affirming care. They point to examples in Ohio and Tennessee of hospitals quickly removing all references from their websites on the gender-affirming care that they provide after they were subjected to hostile online attacks by those who are not in favor of such services being available. Even a hospital in LGBT-friendly Chicago had to cancel some transgender support services due to security risks. Advocates say that “hiding” information on gender-affirming care causes problems of its own, especially as gender-affirming care is already so difficult to find, particularly in rural and low-resource areas. 

Exploring Bi Stigma and Its Impacts

The New York Times published an interactive story on stigma facing bisexual individuals (both from within and outside of LGBT communities), and how living in this “double closet” takes a toll on the mental health of this population. Research has revealed a major source of stress is “identity invalidation,” in which others frequently express their belief that bisexual identities do not even really exist. One strategy for overcoming these challenges is to build a community that includes other bisexual individuals; the Bi Resource Center maintains a list of support and social groups, which are also offered at many LGBT community centers

National Gay Men’s HIV Awareness Day Observed 

The CDC marked September 27 as National Gay Men’s HIV Awareness Day, including through releasing social media posts as well as campaign materials in both English and Spanish. Key messages included using PrEP as a prevention option (which is often recommended for sexually active gay and bisexual men), using the national testing and prevention services locator, and understanding Undetectable = Untransmittable among people who are living with HIV and on treatment, a message that helps reduce stigma.  

HIV Vaccine Research Progresses

Nature published research that may help us get one step closer to an HIV vaccine. Researchers explained that their research is uncovering the importance of timing in delivering a prospective vaccine, finding that a seven-shot regime over twelve days – and then no action, while the body naturally did what needed to be done – was an effective strategy in a study conducted with monkeys. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, including figuring out how to simplify things, given the impracticalities for many people of getting that many shots over a roughly two-week period. 

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