Doctors urge people to take precautions as monkeypox cases rise 50% in a week

There are now more than 150 cases of monkeypox virus in Georgia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s almost 50% more than last week.

Infectious disease doctors say gay men continue to be the most affected by this virus; however, Channel 2’s Audrey Washington spoke to Metro health officials about why it’s not just a gay man’s disease.

Doctors in Washington said the vaccine is available in the Atlanta metro area, but it’s still relatively limited.

Most clinics in the metropolitan area are specifically designed to vaccinate men who have sex with men. According to the CDC, this group is most at risk.

Larry Walker knows how quickly the monkeypox virus can spread.

He is the director of THRIVE SS, an Atlanta-based organization that provides support to black, gay, and bisexual men living with HIV.

“They are unfortunately living with a virus,” Walker said. “I know a few people who currently have it.”

Walker said he was alarmed by the large number of people in the gay community testing positive for monkeypox.

“It’s very scary to see the footage and to hear people suffering from it,” Walker said.

The CDC has just confirmed that there are now nearly 160 cases of monkeypox virus in Georgia and more than 2,500 cases nationwide.

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“It’s transmitted through open lesions, touch, mucous membranes, or large droplets,” said Dr. Jonathan Colasanti, medical director of the Grady Health System’s Infectious Diseases Program at their Ponce de Leon Center.

He said that although we are seeing higher cases within the gay community, monkeypox is not just restricted to men who have sex with other men.

“I think it’s really important not to color this as a gay disease or a homosexual disease. Anyone can get it,” Colasanti said.

Walker agrees, saying it’s important not to stigmatize people who contract the virus.

“It’s a skin-to-skin disease. There is no gay skin or straight skin. But I feel like it’s irresponsible. It piles up a bunch of unnecessary stigma on people who love the same sex,” Walker said.

Now he is focusing on ways to prevent the spread. Walker and Colasanti say it starts with taking the proper precautions.

Colasanti says it’s important for people to “have their radar up if partners have rashes.”

“We all have a responsibility when it comes to preventing the spread of this disease,” Walker said.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is providing thousands of additional vaccines to Georgia.

Anyone at risk is encouraged to get vaccinated.

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