A gay man in the US, who was diagnosed with monkeypox, has documented his experience in a viral TikTok video. His verdict: “This shit is absolutely no joke”. 

Matt Ford, a creative who acts, writes, and sings, spends his time between Los Angeles and New York. Matt believes he might have contracted the virus in LA via skin-to-skin contact.

Since May, when the outbreak outside Africa was first confirmed in the UK, there have been over 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox across the world, including eight confirmed cases in Australia. The outbreak was first confirmed among gay men, though WHO and health authorities in multiple countries have emphasised that “monkeypox is not a gay disease”. 

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Health Authorities in the UK and the US have recommended monkeypox vaccines to some gay and bisexual men at higher risk of exposure.  

Flu-Like Symptoms And Itchy Lesions

Matt said one of his friends in LA called to inform him that he had tested positive for monkeypox. The friend believed Matt too might have been exposed to the virus via skin-to-skin contact. According to Matt, when he checked for spots on his body, he noticed a “couple of lesions in the underwear zone”. 

“I believe I was exposed to it around a week before symptoms manifested. Started off with just a couple bumps, then developed intense flu-like symptoms. Fever, chills, sweats, fatigue, etc,” Matt posted on social media. 

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“Then those symptoms lessened and more spots appeared in various places on my body. I didn’t even notice some at first, but they’ve quickly become itchy and painful. (Particularly if on or near any sensitive areas.) A showed up on my face, as well,” he recalled. 

Get Jabbed

Matt said he went to his doctor and a swab culture on the spots returned a positive result for the monkeypox virus. While most people who have been infected have reported mild symptoms, Matt revealed his symptoms were severe. 

“Some people I know who’ve had it reported mild cases, but the exposure web I’m linked to has had some severe symptoms. I’m currently struggling to sleep through the night. This shit sucks,” said Matt. He had to go to his doctor to get pills for his pain.

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Matt urged gay men to get vaccinated and also had a message for government authorities. “The government needs to pick up the pace on vaccines and testing. The slow response is pretty unacceptable,” said Matt. In another post, he tagged the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asking why people were finding it difficult to get hold of Tecovirimat for treatment of monkeypox. 

What Is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral infection that is endemic in West and Central Africa. It is rare outside until now.

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Skin rash can develop on the face, before spreading to other parts of the body, including the genitals.

According to an advisory from Thorne Habour Health “Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with skin lesions, respiratory droplets, body fluids, or recently contaminated materials such as bedding. Respiratory transmission usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact.”

Monkeypox Is Not A Gay Disease, Says WHO

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that while the “virus is not currently defined as a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by close and intimate contact that occurs during sex.”

Anyone can contract the infection. The current outbreak seems to be largely among gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, and THH said that it could be because of “active health seeking behaviour around sexual health” in the community.

For more information about Monkeypox, check the Thorne Harbour Health website. 

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