June 29, 2022

GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) just-announced strategy to mitigate the spread of monkeypox virus (MPV), which includes prioritizing vaccinations for high-risk groups.

MPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, or contact with contaminated clothes or linen. 306 cases have been reported in the U.S. since May. While the CDC noted early data suggest gay and bisexual men make up a higher number of cases, independent public health researchers warn that limited testing capacity so far has made it difficult to accurately measure cases and spread. The national strategy announcement notes that the CDC has scaled up testing capacity to 78 sites in 48 states, primarily at state public health labs.

HHS’ vaccination plan includes distributing 296,000 vaccines in the coming weeks, with a total of 1.6 million doses by the end of the year. Vaccines will be provided to people with confirmed and presumed MPV exposures, including those who had close physical contact with someone or whose partner has been diagnosed, and men who have sex with men who were in a venue where MPV was known to be spreading.

GLAAD is releasing guidance today for media covering MPV and the LGBTQ community here, to include:

  • Ensuring LGBTQ voices are in any story about LGBTQ people and issues to provide context and avoid stigmatizing
  • Emphasizing how transmission of the virus is related to behaviors and proximity to infected people
  • Reporting facts and broader public health information to reach the largest possible audience
  • Help reduce stigma by using the term MPV after first mention of monkeypox virus

Statement from GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis:
“HHS’ vaccination strategy is critically necessary to protect vulnerable people and the public at large. Media must do their part to elevate information that all communities need to hear to be safe: anyone can get the virus if they come into contact with it. Media must continue to hold public health officials accountable to accurate data gathering, testing, treatment and vaccine distribution to stop the spread of this virus.”

GLAAD was founded in 1985 to monitor media to ensure accurate and respectful reporting about people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. 41 years after the first cases were identified, stigma about HIV and misinformation about the virus continue to drive new infections, despite the fact that medical and scientific breakthroughs have made HIV almost completely preventable with PrEP medication against contracting the virus, and advances in treatment for those living with HIV mean that when effectively treated, HIV can be suppressed to the point of being undetectable and therefore, untransmittable, U=U

GLAAD's Media Reference Guide, now in its 11th edition, offers guidance for reporting on LGBTQ people and health, COVID-19 and HIV.