LGBTQ advocates say the government is “missing communities of color” in its monkeypox response

Officials are expanding outreach campaigns to reach Black and Latino men, but huge disparities persist.

POLITICO – As monkeypox spreads across the country, new data suggests a worrying trend:

Black and Latino men who have sex with men are far more likely to catch the virus than their white counterparts.

While the numbers are limited, they are stark. Nearly 28 percent of monkeypox cases in the U.S. right now are among Black individuals, and 33 percent are among Hispanic people, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday, despite those groups only comprising 13.6 and 18.9 percent of the population, respectively.

Despite these warning signs, LGBTQ health advocates and public health experts said government messaging is failing to reach the communities that need it most, and fear federal and state health officials are repeating the mistakes of not only the coronavirus pandemic but also the HIV epidemic, which still disproportionately affects people of color.

They want the government to engage more closely with organizations that those in affected communities trust, focus outreach in neighborhoods where they live and in the media that they consume, and create better tools for people to seek information and access care.

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“We had a chance to do better,” said Matthew Rose, a longtime health equity and HIV advocate.

“We know the challenges from Covid. It’s so important to find trusted messengers, but we continue to do broad-based messaging. Then we wait, and say, ‘Look at all this disparity again.’”

Federal health officials said they are determined to eliminate the disparities.

On Wednesday, Walensky said she was changing the agency’s broader communications strategy, aiming for greater transparency and simpler language when speaking to the public.

The administration announced on Thursday a pilot program that will make up to 50,000 monkeypox vaccine doses available from the Strategic National Stockpile to states and localities to distribute at LGBTQ events to better reach at-risk communities, including Black and Latino individuals …

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