California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency in response to the monkeypox virus, which so far has mostly affected men who have sex with men.
In a statement Monday, Newsom said the state of California will work closely with the federal government to make monkeypox vaccines more readily available while fighting any stigma the LGBTQ community may face.
“We will continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about risk reduction, and stand with the LGBTQ community to fight stigma,” Newsom said.
According to the Associated Press, about 800 cases have been recorded mentionted in the Golden State, spread primarily through skin-to-skin contact between men who have sex with men. The virus can also be spread through sharing bedding, towels and clothing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also noted that the virus can spread on surfaces used by people with monkeypox. According to the CDC website:
Monkey pox is spread in a few ways.
- Monkey pox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:
- Direct contact with a rash, scab, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding or towels) and surfaces that have been used by a person with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions.
- This direct contact can occur during close contact, including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex, or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (pit) of a person with monkeypox.
- Hugs, massages and kisses.
- Prolonged face-to-face contact.
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that have been used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish equipment, and sex toys.
- A pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus through the placenta.
It is also possible for people to catch monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.
Michelle Gibbons, executive director of the California Health Executives Association, said stigmatizing people infected with monkeypox will only hurt the public health response, stressing that anyone can become infected with the virus.
“Public health officials are clear: stigma is unacceptable and counterproductive to public health,” she said in a statement. “The fact is that monkeypox is transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact and sharing items such as bedding or towels, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
California’s declaration comes after New York state and San Francisco declared their own states of emergency to combat the monkeypox virus.