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WHO chief urges gay men to limit sexual partners to mitigate spread of monkeypox

'That means making safe choices for yourself and others'

tedros ghebreyesus who reuters (File) WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus | Reuters

WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged the gay community to limit the number of their sexual partners to limit their exposure to the monkeypox virus. According to WHO, a majority of cases in the growing monkeypox outbreak are among men who have sex with men. Ghebreyesus also advised members of the gay community to reconsider sex with new partners. 

"This is an outbreak that can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals inform themselves, take the risk seriously and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups. The best way to do that is to reduce the risk of exposure. That means making safe choices for yourself and others. For men who have sex with men, this includes, for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering sex with new partners and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow-up, if needed," he told CNN.

WHO's public health messaging for monkeypox also calls on the importance of not stigmatising men who are gay or bisexual, but rather shifting focus on how the community can help mitigate the spread of the disease. On July 23, WHO declared monkeypox a health emergency of global concern. So far, over 16,000 people have been infected with monkeypox globally. Of these over 3,000 cases have been reported in the US. Monkeypox isn't considered a sexually transmitted disease, but most people who have gotten it in the US recently report some level of sexual activity, Dr Demetre Daskalakis, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official working on the monkeypox response, told CNN. According to the CDC, wearing a condom might help, but not protect against contracting the virus in its entirety. 

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