Scientists are calling for monkeypox to be reclassified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Monkeypox is currently not classified as an STI but rather an illness that may be associated with sexual activity, through skin-to-skin transmission.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) says that considering the illness as an STI would accurately reflect transmission of the new strain of the virus.
Despite concerns around stigmatizing homosexuality, the AHF said it “believes classifying the virus as an STI more accurately reflects transmission of the new clade or strain of the virus, which is primarily affecting gay men and men who have sex with men.”
It is urging collective public health response to immediately adopt an approach that considers monkeypox as an STI.’
AHF President Michael Weinstein blasted world leaders’ response to the outbreak and called for a change in approach.
He wrote: ‘Following the initial and abysmal global, federal, state and local responses to monkeypox, we simply have NO time to waste, we must consider and respond to monkeypox as an STI or STD if we are ever going to get a handle on this virus.
‘Thinking of and treating monkeypox as an STD is the best way forward for our collective public health response.’
Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) is said to be considering reclassifying it, according to The Telegraph.
According to the Telegraph, a formal proposal to change the classification has been submitted to the WHO by Professor Rossi Hassad, a statistician and epidemiologist at New York’s Mercy College.
He argued there is now ‘compelling evidence’ that the virus is spread through sex but conceded there are other forms of transmission.
Lao-Tzu Allan-Blitz – the chief resident physician of global health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital wrote a joint article with Jeffrey Klausner a clinical professor of medicine, infectious disease, population and public health Sciences, at Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California in support of treating monkeypox as an STI.
‘The transmission dynamics of human monkeypox, at least across the United States and Europe, appears to be highly consistent with a sexually transmitted infection. He said
‘Our public health response, therefore, should incorporate sexual health into its response to the current outbreak, including frank discussion of specific sexual behaviors like condomless anal sex that increase the risk for transmission.’
Calling for de-stigmatisation of the route of transmission, the scientists continued:
‘Targeted screening among populations with high risk for other sexually transmitted infections may be important strategies for case identification.’