LGBTQ+ leaders address concerns surrounding monkeypox and their community

Wampler-Collins says while we're learning more about the disease, it's important for people to educate themselves.

LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ)- Burley Thomas of Lexington admits he’s a little concerned about monkeypox, especially as someone in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We’ve always lived in the shadow of a virus. Anybody kind of born in the same age as me, and this is no different in any other way,” said Thomas.

Thomas is also concerned about the stigmas surrounding diseases with many in his own community reportedly testing positive.

On Thursday, the Fayette County Health Department hosted a monkeypox clinic in Lexington, geared towards gay and bisexual men.

During his Team Kentucky update, Governor Andy Beshear confirmed seventeen monkeypox cases total in the state in seven counties: Jefferson County with ten; Fayette County only has one.

“Thankfully, we are not seeing the worst outcomes for those that contract monkeypox. But this vaccine exists at the start of it. Now there wasn’t enough across the United States. But please go out and get vaccinated,” said Beshear.

The Lexington Pride Center leaders say they’re also concerned about stigmas that might be associated with their community and the disease. Stigmas they say they’ve worked hard to prevent.

“There is a mixed concern in that we want people to be healthy and protected and get the vaccines to people who need them. But we also don’t want to create any stigma. That would be very unfortunate. Plus it puts other people who are at risk, it puts a false perception on them that they cant get monkeypox,” said Lexington Pride Center Executive Director Carmen Wampler-Collins.

Wampler-Collins says while we’re learning more about the disease, it’s important for people to educate themselves.

“And understand first of all, first and foremost that this is not a gay disease. It is true that it is spreading within communities. And so it is at this time spreading, particular communities that have sex with sex with men, but it is not a sexually transmitted disease and it is not a gay disease,” said Wampler-Collins.

Leaders are encouraging those who have a higher risk of contracting the disease, to get vaccinated. And if you think you’ve been exposed, to contact your health care provider.

“At least I feel like the CDC and health departments and local organizations have really done a good job about saying “this is not a gay disease” while still trying to reach out into those communities,” said Thomas.

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