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AHF: All Levels of Govt. Failing Gay Men on Monkeypox

·3 min read

AHF declared that federal, state and local public health and elected officials are grossly mishandling the response to the monkeypox outbreak that primarily affects gay men and men who have sex with men

In a press conference today, AHF called on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to implement a proposed six-point plan to ramp up education on the virus and its prevention and treatment

LOS ANGELES, July 14, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AHF, the largest global AIDS organization with treatment clinics or operations in 45 countries, held a press conference today calling on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to adopt and implement a six-point plan of action on monkeypox proposed by AHF. Michael Weinstein, AHF President, also called out all levels of government for failing gay men on monkeypox with an ineffectual or absent public health response to the virus across the country.

During the conference, Weinstein quoted Republican Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) (via The Hill):

"The administration has the tools and authorities necessary to combat these threats (from monkeypox). Your failures to act are a threat to public health, and especially for gay and bisexual men who are at highest risk," wrote Burr. "The government failed this population at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we should not fail them again."

The Hill also noted: "Burr, who sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, criticized the absence of a clear research plan to better understand monkeypox as well as what he perceived to be a lack of communication coming from federal public health officials."

The six-point monkeypox response plan that AHF crafted and is urging County officials to adopt and implement grew out of frustration of health advocates over the lack of clear communication and action by L.A. County DPH on the global monkeypox outbreak, which will hit its two-month mark of presence in the U.S. this weekend.

As of July 13, the US has reported 1,053 cases across 42 states and Washington DC. California is experiencing the most cases—161 infections, or 15%—followed by New York, Illinois, DC, and Florida. LA County makes up 70 of those 161 cases. These cases are primarily among an already stigmatized population.

"Where are Governor Newsom, Senator Padilla, Mayor Garcetti and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on the monkeypox outbreak, which is disproportionately affecting historically marginalized populations--gay men and men who have sex with men?" said AHF’s Weinstein.

AHF also supported other health advocates and elected officials for speaking out on the lack of available vaccines and the government’s shortcomings on monkeypox response.

California State Senator Scott Wiener released a statement yesterday sharply criticizing the federal government:

"We need to be very clear where the responsibility lies for this completely avoidable situation: the federal government. As far back as 2010, public health experts were warning that it was inevitable that monkeypox would spread beyond West Africa. And in 2019, the FDA approved a safe and effective monkeypox vaccine. Yet, the United States government ordered a mere 56,000 vaccine doses (enough for 28,000 people) for the national vaccine stockpile and failed to order the millions of doses that should have been ordered in preparation for an inevitable outbreak. … We need an enormous amount of additional vaccine doses, and we need it immediately. The federal government’s failures are threatening to deeply harm our community. Once we move past this emergency, we need accountability for these failures — failures that put people’s lives and health in jeopardy."

Monkeypox Response: AHF’s Proposed 6-Point Plan for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

  1. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health should conduct twice weekly public briefings outlining the number of new cases and where they are occurring.

  2. Warnings to the gay and bisexual male population should be launched online, in newspapers and in outdoor advertising advising men to watch for symptoms; avoid group sexual situations; consult a doctor if you have symptoms indicative of monkeypox, and isolate if you are diagnosed.

  3. Require signs to be posted in commercial sex venues and via banner or other ads on hookup applications.

  4. Lobby the federal government to supply vaccine on an emergency basis.

  5. Regularly engage community partners to assist the Department of Public Health in prevention, testing, vaccination and treatment of monkeypox.

  6. Engage universities to initiate studies to determine the changed characteristics of monkeypox in the current pandemic.

The Los Angeles Blade will be hosting an in-person ‘Monkeypox Town Hall’ on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at West Hollywood City Council chambers (625 N. San Vincente Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069). For more information, please visit: www.losangelesblade.com/townhall

And as part of efforts to educate its own AHF Healthcare Center patients and clients as well as the general public who may seek free HIV or STD testing at one of AHF Public Health Division’s 35 AHF Wellness Centers in the U.S., AHF created the following AHF Monkeypox Information Sheet: https://www.aidshealth.org?p=79853

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.6 million individuals in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth, follow us @aidshealthcare or subscribe to our AHF podcast "AHFter Hours."

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220714005900/en/

Contacts

LOS ANGELES: Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications for AHF, +1.323.791.5526, ged.kenslea@ahf.org
Lau Lauren Hogan, Associate Director, Communications for AHF +1.310.940.0802 cell lauren.hogan@ahf.org
AHF SOUTHERN BUREAU: Imara Canady, National Director, Communications and Community Engagement, AHF +1.470.639.6591 work +1.770.940.6555 mobile imara.canady@ahf.org