[Image description: A rectangular graphic with a white background. Rainbow gradient text boxes to the left read "Keeping our community informed: Our ongoing response to monkeypox". To the right are two oversized icons of virus particles in yellow, orange, and red colors. The lower right section of the graphic features a purple wave, bordered by a curved line with gradient intersectional Pride colors. The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center logo is in the upper right corner of the graphic.]
With monkeypox now declared as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is committed to providing the most updated and accurate information. We want to be clear and transparent about what we know – and what we don’t know.
Our Pride Guide to Public Health helps educate community members about the spread, signs and symptoms, and steps to take if exposed to monkeypox (as well as syphilis and COVID-19).
At this time, we don’t have access to the monkeypox vaccine, but we’re in close contact with partners like the Allentown Health Bureau and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to figure out how to help keep our community safe. Right now, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is not vaccinating people outside of those who have been exposed or are at high risk of exposure.
NOTE: If you or someone you know believes they may be eligible for the vaccine, we can help connect community members to the Allentown Health Bureau to determine eligibility.
If or when the vaccine is rolled out on a larger scale, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is ready to serve as a community-based clinic. We know how important it is for LGBTQ+ community members to safely access healthcare, and our response to monkeypox is no different.
Monkeypox can affect anyone, not just LGBTQ+ folks. This isn’t a "gay disease," and we condemn reports and characterizations that try to frame monkeypox in that way. The truth is that everyone should be cautious and care for their own health and for others.
Do you have specific questions about monkeypox? We're fortunate to have epidemiology experts on our team. Community members can email our health equity programs manager Chrystina Obleschuk (she/her) at [email protected].
Other information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:
While monkeypox is a serious illness, the type of monkeypox seen in this outbreak is rarely fatal. Per CDC guidance, more than 99% of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. There are multiple FDA approved medications to treat the disease including tecovirimat (TPOXX), Vaccinia Immune Globulin Intravenous (VIGIV), and Brincidofovir (Tembexa). Pennsylvania and the CDC are working with stakeholders to ensure access to both vaccinations and treatments.
Because of limited vaccine supply, the state is prioritizing access for those in highest need, developing a four-tiered system:
- Priority group 1: any individual who has a known exposure to a confirmed case of Monkeypox.
- Priority group 2: individuals in the epidemiologically defined risk group who have engaged in risky behavior in an area/cohort where monkeypox is known to have been present, even without a known contact
- Priority group 3: individuals in the epidemiologically defined risk group who have engaged in other risky behaviors in the last 14 days or have an immunocompromising condition
- Priority group 4: preexposure prophylaxis of healthcare workers or other at-risk individuals
The state is recommending that providers administer vaccine to priority groups 1 and 2, with flexibility to move into group 3 if demand is low and vaccine supply permits. The current epidemiology of this monkeypox outbreak indicates that gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, and/or transgender, gender non-conforming, or gender non-binary persons with multiple (2+) or anonymous sex partner(s) in the past 14 days are at greatest risk of becoming infected with monkeypox. Vaccine prioritization will focus on this epidemiologically defined risk group.
This plan is in keeping with the CDC’s National Strategy, which includes two phases. The first phase consists of using available vaccine stock for people who have had close contact with people known to have monkeypox. The second phase will be when more vaccine is available and will allow for broader vaccination of persons who may be at risk for future monkeypox exposure.
Individuals who believe they may have contracted monkeypox or have been in contact with someone who has monkeypox should immediately contact their health care provider, or any of the providers on this list STD PROVIDERS (pa.gov), to help determine if they need to be tested for monkeypox or need the vaccine. If individuals have any questions, they can also contact the department at 1-877-PAHEALTH.