Sharing Monkeypox Sores on Social Media

When 30-year-old Los Angeles actor Matt Ford tested positive for monkeypox in June, he posted videos to Twitter and TikTok to showcase what happened.

wearing a gray t-shirt look straight into the camera, he provided viewers with close-ups of “gross spots” all over his body, including his face, arms, and belly. He also added, “I also have some in my more sensitive areas, which also tend to be the most painful.

“It hurt so much I had to go to the doctor and get some painkillers just to sleep.” he addedbefore listing other symptoms: sore throat, cough, fever, chills, night sweats, swollen lymph.

In an age where people often use social media to showcase idealized versions of themselves, it’s possible to get rid of your own warts, or, in Ford’s case, some of the “25+” dark lesions on his body. It was probably unusual to display.

“The reason I’m speaking out is primarily to know that there’s a monkeypox outbreak going on and to know exactly what it means for someone’s body, especially what it means. Because knowing is one thing, it happens to a friend or you.

Houston adult film actor Silver Steele, 42, took to Twitter to share a very graphic and personal story of monkeypox. diaryincluding an intimate selfie from July, with eight blueberry-sized scars clustered under his lip.

Also in July, Camille Seton, a 20-year-old gas station cashier in Smyrna, Georgia, received more than 10 million views for a series of TikTok posts detailing her battle with monkeypox. did. one of them It started with Mr. Seton covering his mouth with his hand while saying “trigger warning.” She then revealed that the lower part of her face was covered with a dozen scars.

Viewers responded with heart emojis and thank you notes, but reactions were always unsympathetic.

Jeffrey ToddThe 44-year-old Los Angeles casting director went public with her monkeypox diagnosis in late July, releasing a video of her removing a bandage from her face to reveal a purplish lesion. One commentator accused him of being an actor hired to pretend to be Pfizer.

Tpoxx, the only drug prescribed to treat monkeypox, Shiga Technologies(The drug, which is only approved for smallpox, is off-label and used sparingly.) Todd said his video was temporarily taken down by TikTok, but when he made it Said it was restored. another video Deal with people you don’t like.

In some ways, these videos are reminiscent of the early days of AIDS. Elizabeth Glaser Alison Gertz joined activist Larry Kramer and artist Keith Haring as prominent spokespersons for people living with HIV.

But as outward opposition to homosexuality was far more socially acceptable than it is today, and few platforms existed for escaping the mainstream media, the ability to draw attention to HIV and put a human face on the disease was limited. was restricted.

The speed with which monkeypox patients emerge from the shadows has become eerily familiar to the moment. In fact, like the AIDS activists before them, many of these monkeypox patients are going public to raise awareness and protest the government’s slow response.

“Forty years ago, we had a virus and people were silent and scared,” Steele said. “This time, thankfully, it’s not fatal, but I refuse to keep quiet. I have anger.

Reservations for the vaccine were nearly impossible, in part because government officials waited weeks to order shipments, and the vaccine sat unused in Denmark at manufacturer Bavarian Nordic. The others are expired. On Aug. 4, nearly two months after cases began in New York and Massachusetts, the Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency. This comes almost two weeks after the World Health Organization made a similar declaration.

“Why did it take so long to declare a state of emergency?” Steele said. “Funds could have been diverted to accelerate vaccine production and distribution, but there are similarities to AIDS and this. , then two children get infected, and all of a sudden it’s a crisis.Why wasn’t it a crisis when a gay man had it?”

Todd, a casting director in Los Angeles, also said he was motivated by a perceived government inaction. “I didn’t mean to say anything at first,” he said. “It was embarrassing. I was going to handle it and keep quiet.”

But when he developed symptoms in July, he went to the emergency room to get tested. “I felt that the medical community was really leaving me,” he said. I felt like he didn’t even have my back.”

As he said in the video, “Unfortunately we are alone here. It’s up to us now to educate ourselves and guard ourselves.”

Others want to dispel the myth and shame about the disease, which has disproportionately affected men who have sex with men.

“I want to break the stigma,” said Maxim Sapozinikov, 40, chief executive of Milanese creative services firm Fashion to Max. on Instagram in june.

But it wasn’t easy to tell his family he was infected. “Actually, I blocked him on Instagram for about a week.”

Seton, one of Georgia’s first women to test positive for monkeypox in July, wanted to dispel the notion that women are immune. “Yes, it’s mostly men who have gotten it,” she said. one of her videosseconds. But sexual contact between men “isn’t the only way to get infected,” she said.

After being out of work for nearly a month, Seaton opened a GoFundMe account. This raised over $17,000 to pay rent and medical bills. However, much of it is reimbursed by insurance. “The support I get overwrites the bad things that are happening,” she said.

Still, some of her viewers speculate that monkeypox is a hoax, or that she contracted the disease because she’s transgender, but there’s no proof. I just have short hair.) In response, she posted a video in 2019 showing her in the hospital after giving birth. “Tell me the truth,” she said, turning to her present video standing in her living room. “That’s my daughter.”

She continues to post videos warning that the virus will spread without further testing, vaccination and education. She has evidence that she may be right.

Nancy Nydam, communications director for the Georgia Department of Public Health, said 98% of the 544 cases in the state last week were men, but all six women who tested positive had HIV in the past two weeks. said it was positive.

“It’s been coming in a regular rhythm all along,” Nydam said.

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