WICHITA, Kansas (KWCH) – Monkeypox continues to spread in the United States, with the majority of cases now occurring among gay and bisexual men.
However, the CDC says the virus can affect anyone and is spreading to others. People in the LGBTQ community are at greater risk, but local advocates say they feel stigmatized against the community because of the disease.
Local supporters are concerned that it will lead to misinformation and do not want to see a repeat of what happened with AIDS in the 1980s.
Brett Hogan, director of Positive Directions, a free HIV and STD testing center in downtown Wichita, says many of his clients are part of the LGBTQ community.
“They are not your enemies. Educate yourself not to know,” Hogan said.
He sees a lot of misinformation about the disease in his community and is trying to educate him.
“That’s another thing that can be put in an unwanted community. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I’m not gay.’
Kansas Executive Director Thomas Witt said that even if the disease doesn’t affect Kansas significantly, it does affect the state’s LGBTQ community.
“When we face a modern public health crisis, there’s a part of society that tries to blame someone. It’s endless. It’s predictable. It sucks,” Witt said.
His concern is that misinformation will only harm the community rather than solve the problem.
“LGBTQ people may face more discrimination and ultimately be hurt. They are more marginalized and there is no way to solve the public health crisis. Getting mad at everyone and blaming others for public health problems isn’t going to solve the problem,” Witt said.
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