LGBT+ groups across the political spectrum have joined forces to demand that the government step up efforts to combat smallpox or it risks becoming “endemic” in the UK.
The US on Thursday declared a public health emergency over the virus – which in most cases seen so far affects gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) – which followed the World Health Organization in the month. past calling it a worldwide emergency.
UK health officials have urged calm, but now those inside Westminster have urged Health Secretary Steve Barclay to take action due to monkeypox “causing real fear and anxiety” in queer communities.
“We stand together as LGBT+ groups from all political parties to call on the government to treat the chickenpox outbreak as a public health emergency,” a letter to Barclay signed by LGBT+ groups for Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Scottish Nationals . Party said.
“We cannot allow smallpox to become endemic in the UK. Fortunately, we have the tools we need to stop this outbreak and prevent further health risks now. We ask that you do so urgently.”
The letter, which was also signed by sexual health charities including the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the government must prioritize communication and vaccination.
“We need clear, non-stigmatizing messages delivered directly to the GBMSM about monkeypox symptoms and what to do if you suspect you have the virus to inform and reassure people (instead of the current transmission-to-all approach that constantly mentions the GBMSM),” said the authors, who included Luke Black of the Conservatives and Matthew Lloyd of Labour.
“Messages must reach communities at high risk of contracting monkeypox, through targeted messaging on apps, online and in queer media.
“Vaccinating those most at risk of smallpox must be a priority if we are to have a chance of preventing the virus from becoming endemic in the UK,” they added.
“We are very concerned that while mass vaccination events are a great way to build confidence that vaccinations are happening, they can be a factor in inequality, especially when there is an insufficient supply of vaccines,” Lloyd said separately.
“It’s time to get improved systems and more purchases of this much-needed vaccine.”
The Terrence Higgins Trust also called for improvements in the vaccination effort.
The charity’s head of policy, Ceri Smith, said: “We need urgent political action to control the growing number of smallpox cases in the UK.
“That is why we are grateful to LGBT+ groups from different political parties who have come together to call for a public health response commensurate with the scale of the problem, while gay and bisexual men remain the vast majority of cases.
“We need to see much better coordination, greater vaccine procurement, improved delivery and an injection of money into sexual health services to treat smallpox, which will also reverse the impact the outbreak is already having on STD testing and treatment, provision of PrEP and contraception services. .”
The NHS announced late last month that it was stepping up its monkeypox vaccination program in London as more supplies of a vaccine became available.
Thousands of monkeypox vaccines have already been administered and the NHS is working to quickly invite those most at risk.
Department of Health and Social Assistance
Vaccination experts have recommended that gay and bisexual men at increased risk of exposure to smallpox receive the Imvanex vaccine.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Thousands of monkeypox vaccines have already been administered and the NHS is working to quickly invite those most at risk.
“We have purchased over 150,000 vaccines and are working with partners – including the NHS and the UK Health Safety Agency – to share targeted, non-stigmatizing communications with the LGBTQ+ community.
“We are enabling local authorities to invest in essential first-rate sexual health services, providing over £3.4bn through the Public Health Grant.”