November 28, 2022

GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement this morning recommending a new name for monkeypox disease: Mpox, with the new name fully phased in over the next year.

WHO’s announcement states the name change was recommended after consultation with countries, community partners, and people who noted racist and stigmatizing language as the monkeypox outbreak expanded earlier this year. While Mpox cases are declining overall in the U.S., the CDC notes Black, Latino, gay and bisexual men continue to be over-represented in the total number of cases.

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis responded online and here:
“Public health officials and authorities must remove every barrier to improving understanding about how viruses spread and who is most affected. Decades of public health research shows stigma slows down testing, treatment, access to care, and vaccine equity, particularly in communities of color, which are often disproportionately impacted by global outbreaks. GLAAD urges media to follow the new WHO guidelines for reporting on Mpox and continue to center gay and bisexual men, and Black and Latino populations, who remain overrepresented in Mpox cases and need accurate information to get fully vaccinated and treated."

GLAAD will be updating its resource page and factsheets to align with WHO recommendations: 

GLAAD released guidance in June for media covering Mpox and the LGBTQ community, including recommendations to:

  • Include LGBTQ voices in any story about LGBTQ people and issues
  • Emphasize how transmission of the Mpox virus is related to behaviors and proximity to infected people
  • Report facts and broader public health information to reach the largest possible audience

Additional background from WHO about Mpox origins:

  • Human monkeypox was given its name in 1970 (after the virus that causes the disease was discovered in captive monkeys in 1958), before the publication of WHO best practices in naming diseases, published in 2015. According to these best practices, new disease names should be given with the aim to minimize unnecessary negative impact of names on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare, and avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.
  • Assigning new names to new and, very exceptionally, to existing diseases is the responsibility of WHO under the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications (WHO-FIC) through a consultative process which includes WHO Member States. ICD is part of the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications (WHO-FIC).

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