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21st May 2022

Doctors concerned about impact of Monkeypox on sexual health

Simon Bland


20 cases have been confirmed in the UK so far

Medical experts have warned that monkeypox infections could have a “massive impact” on people’s access to sexual health services.

While the virus – which is typically rare outside of Central and West Africa – has not previously been referred to as a sexually transmitted infection, it can reportedly pass through direct sexual contact alongside close contact with an infected person.

Following 20 confirmed cases in the UK which are primarily based in London, it is believed that around 80 cases have been detected in at least 12 countries across the world, including Italy, Sweden, Portugal, America and Canada. According to the World Health Organisation, a further 50 cases are currently being looked into.

Recent reports from the BBC suggest that staff at sexual health clinics have been told to isolate if they come into contact with anyone that they believe is infected with Monkeypox.

With most of the confirmed UK cases being identified among gay and bisexual men, the UK Health Security Agency has asked those about to engage in sexual contact to be extra wary of any unusual rashes or legions on their partner.

It is believed Monkeypox can enter the human body through the eyes, nose or mouth or through broken skin, with early symptoms including fever, headaches, chills and exhaustion.

While only a handful of cases have been confirmed in the UK thus far, staff in sexual health clinics are said to be “already under significant pressure”, according to consultant in genitourinary medicine and president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV Dr Claire Dewsnap.

“It is already stretching the workforce and will have a massive impact if staff have to isolate if they are in close contact with someone who’s infected.”

She added: “I am concerned about the potential impact on access to sexual health generally.”

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