Public health officials say the Biden administration’s monkeypox response is not enough

They, along with leaders of some national LGBTQ organizations, are frustrated and angry with the federal government for its “lack of urgency” over the ongoing outbreak.

They say they feel let down by the government and want monkeypox declared a public health emergency now.

“We are, once again, at a time when a lack of urgency and an inadequate response have left our community filled with fear, unanswered questions and valid outrage. A time when we have been let down by the inaction,” Tyler TerMeer, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, said Tuesday.

“This is unacceptable and completely avoidable,” TerMeer said. “Our community of resilient people has once again had to rise up to support each other, educate each other and fight to access the resources they need and deserve.”

Monkeypox can infect anyone, but the majority of cases in the outbreak in the United States have affected men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men, and people who identify as transgender.

Since June, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had made concerted efforts to educate and raise awareness in the LGBTQ community.

The agency says it has worked with the umbrella organization Local Pride Committees to raise awareness. He has posted educational videos, engaged with groups that work with health disparities and industries whose workers may be exposed to monkeypox, and created awareness campaigns on Instagram and on popular dating apps with the gay community like Scruff, Adam4Adam and Grindr. The agency also plans to participate in listening sessions with LGBTQ community groups.

But these efforts have not shortened lines for vaccines or eliminated the many paperwork needed to access treatments.

In an effort to elevate their public health response, California, Illinois and New York State have declared public health emergencies, as has the World Health Organization. San Francisco became the first major US city to declare a local health emergency last week, and New York did so on Saturday.

The federal government is monitoring the response to monkeypox across the country and will use it to determine whether to declare its own public health emergency, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

“We have made vaccines, tests and treatments available to all jurisdictions running their public health systems far beyond the quantities currently needed,” he said.

“We will weigh any decision to declare a public health emergency based on the responses we see across the country. Ultimately, we need to stay ahead of the curve and be able to end this outbreak.”

What is monkeypox and how can you stay safe while it spreads?

Torrian Baskerville, director of HIV and health equity at the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, said community members shouldn’t have had to create their own monitoring systems by line to find out when and where vaccines and treatments are available because of a lack of information from local governments.

“Our system is not set up to respond effectively to these emergencies, especially when they affect vulnerable and often marginalized populations,” Baskerville said.

He spoke with several members of the community who have not received the help they need to treat or prevent the sometimes extremely painful illnesses. sickness.

A man who showed clear signs of monkeypox told Baskerville he was turned away from his local health department, refused testing and treatment because there were no more appointments, even though he had arrived during the opening hours of the clinic.

Another man told Baskerville he faced deportation. Unable to work, isolated with symptoms of monkeypox for more than 25 days, he said he had been denied medical leave three times and had to spend at least five more days in isolation because he presented with always have symptoms.

Another told him they had to lie about how many recent sexual partners they had because some state and local health departments had to ration vaccines, only giving them to people who had three partners or more in the past two weeks.

Without a federal emergency declaration, San Francisco and New York sound the alarm over monkeypox

“The frustrations and concerns of gay and bisexual men and transgender men and women who are, at this time, most affected by [monkeypox] are very real and clear,” Bakersville said.

Several public health experts have said the United States missed an opportunity to contain the monkeypox virus because it was too slow to act.

Access to vaccines has been difficult since the epidemic reached the United States two months ago. The CDC estimates that about 1.5 million people are eligible for the vaccine, but as of Thursday, the US Department of Health and Human Services said, more than 340,000 doses have been delivered.

As of late Monday, the United States had tallied at least 5,811 confirmed or probable cases of monkeypox, a number that experts say remains a significant undercount.

With a limited supply and growing awareness of the virus and its sometimes painful effects, vaccination appointments are going fast.

Top Democrats want $21 billion to fight Covid and other outbreaks

David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said Tuesday that the organization invited directors of public health clinics from across the country to a meeting with the Biden administration on Monday where they discussed the how this part of the monkeypox outbreak feels so familiar. Management of monkeypox is similar to the early days of HIV and Covid-19, he said.

“Program after program, we talked about the fear and the stigmatization that homosexuals live vis-à-vis [monkeypox]vaccine shortages, exhausted staff, lack of funding to cover what has been an unforeseen public health emergency,” he said.

Harvey said his association is pleased the White House named two monkeypox response officers on Tuesday, but the community needs the federal government to declare a state of emergency to provide more money and personnel.
WHO chief advises men who have sex with men to cut back on partners to limit exposure to monkeypox

He called the outbreak “out of control” and added that it’s something many public health officials have warned will happen unless the federal government acts urgently.

Congress must also act quickly to approve the $21 billion Pandemic Preparedness Act, he said, because local health officials need more money and the country needs to reduce and phase out barriers to testing, care, vaccines and subsidies.

Harvey was particularly critical of Becerra, who told a news conference last week that “everyone needs to row and row. Everyone needs to do their part” and that local jurisdictions need to “work with” HHS on reporting data on how they use vaccines.

Becerra said communities must work to prevent the spread of monkeypox and distribute vaccines. Without this work, more vaccines will be needed.

“But if everyone does their job,” he said, “can we not only stay ahead of the virus, but end this outbreak? Absolutely.”

Harvey believes local health officials have gone out of their way to do what they can with the resources they have.

“States and localities have really been left alone to respond to many aspects of this outbreak. This is contrary to comments made by Secretary Becerra last week, when he appeared to blame states and cities for not having responded adequately,” he said. “Mr. Secretary, we are failing the Americans today. And it’s a public health failure that follows Covid and the various early days of HIV in this country. It’s time for us to turn things around.”

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