Guess WHO wasn’t paying attention 5 years ago to the African outbreak of gay sexually transmitted monkey pox?
These men also didn’t fit the typical profile for monkeypox patients. They weren’t hunting or handling animals but instead were middle-class men, living in busy, modern cities. Ogoina wondered: “Why isn’t it affecting children? Or females? Or the elderly? Why are we seeing only young men, ages 20 to 40?” (In fact, Ogoina and his colleague eventually figured out that the young boy didn’t even catch the virus from an animal but rather from a male relative in his household.)
And the rashes that affected these patients weren’t in the typical places where monkeypox struck. Instead of being on their face and extremities, the blisteres occurred around their genitals. “They had very extensive genital lesions. Very, very extensive,” Ogoina says.
Ogoina and his colleagues started to investigate these patients further. “We decided to do a sexual history assessment of some of the cases,” he says. That assessment found that many of the patients had high-risk sexual behaviors, including multiple partners and sex with [male?] prostitutes.
Sounds like WHOever was in charge didn’t like the possible stigma back then either, and just ignored it.
Over the past few years, Ogoina says he has tried to warn health officials and scientists repeatedly that monkeypox had changed and was possibly spreading through sexual contact. At one international meeting, he tried to bring up the possibility of sexual transmission. Somebody told him to be quiet.
“Yes, someone told me that I should not say it. That I should not say sexual transmission is possible,” Ogoina recalls