Media Statement: Combatting Stigma and Discrimination in the Wake of the Mpox Outbreak

Members of the LGBTIQ+ community have expressed deep concern about potential further marginalisation due to the mpox (formerly known as a monkeypox) outbreak in South Africa.

We have seen the damaging effects of stigma and discrimination before, notably during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic when gay and bisexual men were unfairly shamed and ostracised. We must ensure this does not happen again.

Disease outbreaks should be met with compassion and accurate medical information, not judgement and condemnation. Most diseases predominantly impact heterosexual people, yet we do not stigmatise heterosexual individuals when they fall ill. Unfortunately, minority groups are often unfairly blamed and stigmatised when affected by health issues.

It’s important to remember that mpox can affect anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. One reason cases of mpox have been reported among men who have sex with men (MSM) may be due to their proactive health-seeking behaviour, which ultimately benefits everyone.

OUT LGBT Well-being urges MSM, LGBTIQ+ communities, and the broader society to educate themselves about mpox and its symptoms. Stay vigilant and take necessary precautions, but do not panic.

We also call for rational and informed discussions on media platforms, avoiding the blame or shaming of any community. Let’s prioritise understanding and support over fear and discrimination.

For more information on mpox, its symptoms, and preventive measures, please refer to reliable medical sources, including our Mpox Factsheet here or the NICD website here.