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Corpus Christi LGBTQ+ community concerned stigma will grow as monkeypox virus spreads

Local health authorities want to remind the community that anyone can contract the virus through close, prolonged contact.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As the number of monkeypox cases grows across the country, a stigma surrounding how it spreads becomes more concerning.

The World Health Organization released data that shows about 95% of monkeypox cases are related to male-to-male sexual contact. However, with that, they also say it's important to emphasize still -- anyone could get the virus.

"This is really an issue to me about stigma," said Barton Bailey, the coordinator at the Coastal Bend Pride Center. 

He said the monkeypox statistics are concerning for the LGBTQ+ community.

"This is an issue that's about skin to skin contact, much like many other diseases, that it's not unique to the LGBTQ population," Bailey said.

He said he fears as more numbers point to the community, it can promote discrimination and misunderstanding. It's a misconception local health authority, Doctor Kim Onufrak said she also wants to make clear.

"It doesn't have to be specifically just to that community," Onufrak said.

She added, it's important to remind people that the way monkeypox spreads is through skin-to-skin contact for a prolonged period of time.

"It's not a sexually transmitted disease, but that is how it's being transmitted right now because of that activity. Well, you're underdressed, the lesions are exposed, you're in close contact, and you're rubbing on the lesions," Onufrak said.

Onufrak said while we currently do not have any monkey pox cases locally, they are requesting the vaccine should we need them.

"Right now it is limited and it has to be approved through public health measures," Onufrak said.

In the meantime, she said if anyone believes they have been in contact with someone with monkeypox, they should call the public health department and an investigation will begin. Also, she added if residents develop a fever they need to stay home.

Onufrak said they have had a handful of people call to report that they believe they've been in contact with the virus, but through their investigations they found there was no true exposure.

They are hoping to have monkeypox vaccines at the department within the next week or so. However, for now, she said to be cautious of who you are in close and intimate contact with.

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