‘Warn Everyone’: Spain’s LGBTQ Community Advocates Abstinence to Fight Monkeypox

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 25: The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, and the director of the Carlos III Health Institute, Cristobal Belda, participate in the press conference following the Interterritorial Council of the SNS, on 25 May, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. During the press conference, the Ministry of Health and …
Jesus Hellin/Europa Press via Getty Images

The LGBTQ community in Spain has advocated abstinence and the limiting of sexual partners to fight the monkeypox outbreak.

After Spain recorded its first monkeypox-related death on Saturday, something seen only in Brazil and Africa at this point, the country’s gay community sprung into action to battle the virus “whether it’s abstinence, avoiding nightclubs, limiting sexual partners or pushing for a swift vaccine rollout,” according to Agence France-Presse.

“With this monkey thing, I prefer to be careful. … I don’t have sex anymore, I don’t go to parties anymore, and that’s until I’m vaccinated and have some immunity,” 35-year-old Madrid resident Antonio told the outlet.

Antonio, who declined to give his last name, said that he would frequently attend nightclubs and the occasional sex party prior to the monkeypox outbreak, which primarily has infected men who have sex with men. He also said that the world would have acted faster if monkeypox were not a “queer disease.”

“This is not like Covid, the vaccine already exists, there’s no need to invent it. If it wasn’t a queer disease, we would have acted more — and faster,” said Antonio, who waited as long as three weeks to receive the vaccine due to the high volume of appointments.

A nurse prepares the Monkeypox vaccine at the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

A nurse prepares the Monkeypox vaccine at the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

With over 18,000 cases of the virus estimated worldwide, Spain has become one of the worst-hit countries outside of Africa, with a total of 4,298 estimated infections. Just last week, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) called on gay and bisexual men to limit their number of sexual partners for the time being.

“For men who have sex with men, this includes for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering considering sex with new partners, and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow-up if needed,” said W.H.O. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Tedros likewise called on Big Tech platforms to regulate the stigma that can be associated with stopping the virus.

“The stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus and can fuel the outbreak. As we have seen with Covid-19 misinformation, and this information can spread rapidly online,” he said.

Nahum Cabrera, who heads an umbrella group of more than 50 LGBTQ organizations all over Spain, said that the government needs to immediately vaccinate those most at risk, including those who have “regular sex with multiple partners, as well as those who frequent swingers’ clubs, LGTBI saunas, etc.”

“It risks creating a false sense of security among the general population, and they relax into thinking that they are safe and that it only happens to men who have sex with men,” he said.

“We are facing a health emergency … that affects the LGBTI community, so people think it is insignificant, that it is not serious,” said Ivan Zaro, of the Imagina MAS (Imagine More) NGO. “This is exactly what happened 40 years ago with HIV.”

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