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Monkeypox Racial difference begins with its own name

OneAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), people can transmit monkeypox through skin-to-skin contact, respiratory droplets, and contaminated human-contaminated materials (such as clothing). While anyone can contract the virus, it is largely considered something of concern only for men who have sex with men (MSM) and Native Americans of color (BIPOC). ). Now – as the total number of virus cases is decreasing but the racial disparity in transmission is increasing – it is important to note the role that discrimination and racism play in perpetuating myths about who is at risk and who should be vaccinated.

To contextualize this, let’s first look at the very name of monkeypox and its problematic allusion. “Monkey” is a derogatory term when used to describe African and Black people. In the book Types of Human Scientists, published in 1854, scientists Josiah C. Nott and George R. Gliddon were among the first to have a record comparing blacks and Africans with chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys. It goes without saying that being called and compared to a primate dehumanizes and devalues ​​Negro existence.

In the face of public outcry over how the name monkeypox is particularly harmful to the black community, WHO announced plans to change it in June. And in August, the organization will share it. organize a forum to “avoid offending any cultural, social, national, regional, occupational or ethnic group and minimize any negative impact on trade, tourism, tourism or animal welfare”.

The name monkeypox and its racist associations with BIPOC perpetuate social stigmas that further increase racial disparities.

All of this to say that words and names matter. Discovered in 1958 and a cousin to smallpox, monkeypox originated in Copenhagen, Denmark. Yes, you read that correctly — not Africa, but Denmark. Furthermore, the monkeys were infected with the virus by rodents. However, even though it was discovered in Denmark, and is descended from rodents rather than monkeys, the name still stuck.

While the first reported human case of monkeypox was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970, and subsequent outbreaks have been highly concentrated in several African countries since then, withdraw maybe affects anyone, and outbreaks have occurred in countries all over the world. However, the name monkeypox and its racist associations with BIPOC continued to induce social stigma that further increased racial disparities.

How history repeats itself with insensitive virus naming

Names are important to awareness, education, and the spread of disease. Consider 4H, the precursor term for HIV/AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls it the “4H disease,” calling heroin users, homosexuals, hemophilia and Haitians as high-risk groups. There’s so much hate wrapped around such a petty name, that it’s easy for members of the wealthy white majority to see illness as a fringe issue that doesn’t affect them. (And before 4H started, HIV was originally called GRID, or gay-related immunodeficiency disease. I don’t know a worse name.)

Think of all the lives that could have been saved if HIV were what we know it today: something anyone can get, not something that affects just four specific populations. What if we paid equal attention to every human body from the start of the disease?

Words have power. Calling HIV/AIDS 4H allows people who do not identify as or live with one of the Hs to feel no responsibility whatsoever for containing or reporting the virus. We’re seeing this today with monkeypox. With the notion that only MSM and BIPOC can contract smallpox in monkeys, heterosexuals, homosexuals, and whites are exempt from responsibility for preventing the spread, causing the current racial disparities in schools. Smallpox cases in monkeys are annoying but not surprising.

Patterns of racism in the virus

The name of the disease is not the only failure to favor the rise of racial disparities in infections. Think of the COVID-19 pandemic as a recent example of unequal access to care, testing, vaccinations and systemic support for self-care. And then there’s the broader range of health care shortfalls for BIPOC in general.

This racist model of stopping the virus outbreak is advocated by a culture of white supremacy. When they wield power and false control, members of the white majority can feel comfortable immune to a virus that anyone can catch and spread. Thus, a false sense of immunity allows the world to continue to function as it should when perhaps it shouldn’t. It’s also a way to make sure the working class, which is largely made up of BIPOC workers, continues to work to make sure our public transport moves forward and our hospitals stay safe. clean and restaurant food is prepared and delivered to serve the dominant culture.

But, we are not without options to change this landscape. There are many things that can be done to break the pattern:

  • Health care needs a complete makeover: Bias in prevention, treatment, and overall care needs to be removed.
  • We need more diverse researchers, biologists, chemists, and scientists to ensure treatment inclusion, data collection, and messaging.
  • Comprehensive virus naming committees must exist to remove the stigma against any virus or disease.
  • Journalists need to be more informed about how implicit bias is expressed in their words, and how this could change the way readers monitor their own health and the health of others. .
  • Individually, each of us must take the time to learn the history of a virus, its respective precautions, testing and vaccinations to check for bias and privilege.

We cannot have effective public health if we exclude members of the public, focusing instead on those privileged enough to be healthy. If we continue to stigmatize monkeypox, the pattern will continue.

Viruses do not discriminate; they look for a host, an organism with any identity and characteristics to infect. When our system considers who is valuable enough to have access to society’s determinants of overall health and wellness, white supremacy is upheld, making BIPOC , members of the disabled community, and those who identify as LGBTQ+ in positions prone to discrimination, which may be detrimental to their health.

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