Health officials walk fine line as monkeypox swells

State and city governments are walking a fine line as they move to confront the monkeypox outbreak, trying to spread awareness of the disease — which has thus far predominantly affected men who have sex with men — while avoiding stigmas.


“The tightrope you’re trying to walk is making sure that people don’t see it as just a gay men’s illness, but not alarming people so that they use up resources that need to go to the people who need the most right now,” Will Goedel, a professor at the Brown University School of Public Health, told The Hill.

  • The first American cases of monkeypox were detected in Massachusetts nearly three months ago, and, on Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra officially declared monkeypox to be a public health emergency in the U.S.
  • The number of total monkeypox cases in the U.S. has reached more than 7,000, with concentrations in the states of New York, California and Illinois. Each of these states has issued their own emergency orders to distribute resources such as vaccines and testing more efficiently amid growing demand.

San Francisco public health officer Susan Philip told The Hill in an interview that it is crucial to bring awareness and education to vulnerable communities most at risk.


“It’s really important for us not to stigmatize any groups so that they feel comfortable getting information from us or from community partners, that they understand how they can access services, including vaccine and treatment and testing.”