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Monkeypox Gay Sex Stigma Falsely Pushed by Right-Wing Columnist

Vaccination lineup
A lineup to get the MPV vaccine

Bethany S. Mandel's tweet is both inaccurate and stigmatizing, other Twitter users quickly pointed out.

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A conservative columnist is being taken to task for a stigmatizing tweet about monkeypox vaccines.

Bethany S. Mandel, who has spoken out against COVID-19 mask mandates and other public health measures, tweeted Monday about people lined up for the MPV vaccine in Brooklyn, N.Y., saying the virus is transmitted only by "sex with strangers."

That's not true. The following is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "The virus can spread from person-to-person through: direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids; respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex; touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids; pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta." At least one Twitter user shared that information in response to Mandel's tweet.

The current outbreak, which has resulted in 1,814 confirmed U.S. cases by the CDC's latest count, has been concentrated among men who have sex with men, but public health authorities have stressed that MPV does not discriminate.

"Infectious disease knows no boundaries," Dr. Raj Panjabi, senior director for global health security at the White House, told The Advocate recently, noting that there should be no stigma attached to the virus.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, made a similar point in an Advocate interview. "Unfortunately, the virus hit the social network of gay men first, but it will not stay confined to gay men if it spreads," he said. "Anyone can get it, and anyone can get monkeypox through skin contact with sores, touching objects, and by respiratory. The virus does not discriminate and doesn't care how or whose body it enters."

Mandel, who has written for Salt Lake City's Deseret News and other publications, received some support on Twitter (with a smattering of homophobic comments), but other users pointed out the problems with her tweet.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.