Texas Health Action is working with local health officials to closely monitor the Monkeypox outbreak.
Monkeypox is spreading mostly from skin-to-skin contact during sex, mostly among men who have sex with men. You may develop flu-like symptoms, such as fevers and chills, body aches or fatigue, before or after the development of a rash. The rash with Monkeypox may look like a blister or a pimple, often with a dimple at its center, and commonly starts on the part of your body that was first exposed.
Having the name and contact number of your sexual partner(s) will help connect them to vaccine or treatment if you are diagnosed with Monkeypox. Your name will not be revealed.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rash or sore that may look like blisters or pimples and you may also have fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, or exhaustion.
Monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus in the same family as smallpox and spreads through skin contact with an infectious rash or sore; an item that came in contact with the infectious rash or sore; or through respiratory droplets like during kissing or sharing drinks.
Monkeypox can cause flu-like symptoms and rash, sores, or lesions that can appear anywhere on the body, including the genitals. The sores can be flat, raised or pus-filled, and sometimes resemble herpes or syphilis (may look like pimples or blisters).
You can get Monkeypox from:
- Direct skin to skin contact with an infectious rash or sore, when your skin touches the infectious rash or sore, like during sex
- Inhaling droplets from breathing or fluids from the mouth like during sex, cuddling, or kissing (CLOSE contact)
- Touching items that touched the infectious rash or sore, like sheets, gear, sex toys, or fabrics like sheets or a towel
What symptoms should I look for?
You may experience flu-like symptoms of feeling tired, body aches or a fever, which may be before a rash or sore appears. You may notice a rash on genitals or anus from Monkeypox exposure from sexual or intimate contact. The rash or sore may also spread to other parts of the body.
Any rash should be evaluated by a healthcare professional before self-treating. Cover the rash or sore so it does not come in to contact with other people’s skin. Avoid sexual contact with others until your rash or sore has been looked at by a doctor or provider, and you get results of any tests run.
Is Monkeypox an STI?
The CDC has reported that many of the current cases of Monkeypox are first appearing as rashes around the genitals or anus. Anyone can get Monkeypox.
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, and skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. This contact can happen during sex and foreplay including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex
- Hugging, massage, or mutual masturbation
- Inhaling droplets through kissing and talking closely
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with Monkeypox, such as bedding, towels, gear, and sex toys (always clean your toys after each use).
I have a rash, what do I do?
- Don’t touch it! If you do, wash your hands immediately for 30 seconds. Do not touch other parts of your body after touching a rash or sore.
- Come see us! Schedule an appointment at a Kind Clinic 833-WE-R-KIND (833-937-5463)
- Avoid sexual contact with others until your rash or sore has been looked at by a doctor or provider, and you get results of any tests run
- Cover the rash or sore so it does not come in to contact with other people’s skin
- Do you own laundry (don’t let others touch laundry or items that came in contact with a rash or sore) until you have results back from any tests that were run.
What can I do to protect myself and others?
You can help prevent the spread of Monkeypox by washing your hands frequently and avoiding sex with others if you have symptoms. Have any rashes or sores that are around genitals or anus checked by a doctor. Monkeypox can occur on any part of the body.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is very effective in reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus to other parts of your body and to others, and you should wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer should you touch the rash.
Limiting your number of sexual partners reduces your risk of exposure. So does avoiding group sex venues such as sex parties or bathhouses. Don’t forget that it’s ok to have open discussions with your potential partners about their recent sexual activities or Monkeypox exposures. It’s likely that your partner may have anxieties about monkeypox too, and these conversations can help put both of you at ease.
Wearing a condom does help prevent STIs and HIV, but not Monkeypox. Although Monkeypox is not an STI, intimate contact is the most significant risk factor at present for acquiring the infection.
If you are on PrEP, it is only approved for HIV prevention, not Monkeypox.
I’m living with HIV, should I be concerned?
- If you’re undetectable on HIV medication and your immune system is healthy (your CD4 count is greater than 200), then you are not at increased risk for a more severe case of Monkeypox. People living with HIV who are not undetectable, not on medication for HIV, or who have weakened immune systems (CD4 counts less than 200) may be at risk for more severe symptoms of Monkeypox. You should minimize your risk of contracting Monkeypox by following the recommendations above. If you do develop symptoms of Monkeypox, contact us or the provider of your choice right away so you can be given medication to treat Monkeypox. If you are not on medication for HIV, call us or the provider of your choice to discuss starting you on HIV medications ASAP.
If you or someone you are going to have sex with is experiencing symptoms of Monkeypox, avoid having any kind of sex that involves skin to skin contact, like oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Try camming, sexting, or other virtual sex instead.
- Masturbate with some distance – six feet again? You can masturbate without touching each other or any rash.
- Wash your hands, any gear or toys used, and any fabric (like sheets, towels, etc) after having sex.
- Know your body, know your partner’s body. Keep the lights on and use foreplay as a time to get to know each other and explore each other’s bodies. If you’re not comfortable, stick to your boundaries.
- Check other resources like Poz.com for more ideas on sex in the time of Monkeypox
Can I can vaccinated against Monkeypox?
At the moment, the State of Texas does not have vaccines available for preventing Monkeypox in those who have not had a confirmed exposure–vaccine is only available for people who have documented high-risk exposures to another person with proven Monkeypox. Kind Clinic does not have any vaccines for Monkeypox available at this time. You should contact your local health department if you discover that you were exposed to a sexual partner with confirmed Monkeypox.
Is there a treatment for Monkeypox?
YES! Most people will not need treatment, the infection will clear up after 2-4 weeks. If your rash or sore is confirmed to be Monkeypox, your healthcare provider or doctor may arrange treatment for you if needed, often pills you can take by mouth. Illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. If you are diagnosed at a Kind Clinic, and treatment is needed, we will arrange treatment for you. If you have confirmed Monkeypox, you may have to isolate for 2 – 4 weeks. Your doctor will tell you how long you have to isolate.
I’m getting over Monkeypox, how long do I have to isolate?
If you have confirmed Monkeypox, you need to remain home isolation until all the lesions have scabbed over, the scabs fall off on their own (do not pick at the scabs), and you can see new, healthy skin visible underneath. Your provider will be able to offer you further guidance on when it is safe to resume usual activities outside your home at a follow-up appointment.
How do I know if I’m vaccinated against Monkeypox?
While smallpox vaccination prevents Monkeypox, routine smallpox vaccination for the American public was discontinued in 1972 after the disease was eradicated in the United States. If you were born before 1972 and are concerned about your vaccination status, speak with your healthcare provider.
Should I be concerned?
You are at highest risk of Monkeypox if you:
- had contact with someone who has a similar rash or received a diagnosis of confirmed or suspected Monkeypox
- are a man who regularly has close or intimate in-person contact with other men, like any kind of sex that involves skin to skin contact
Do I need to go to the ER or hospital?
Very few people in the US have had to be hospitalized because of Monkeypox. Your healthcare provider or doctor will be able to determine if you need to go to the hospital.
I’ve been exposed to Monkeypox but don’t have symptoms. Do I need to isolate?
If you’ve been exposed to a documented case of Monkeypox, we encourage you to contact your local health department to be screened for possible vaccination. You do not need to isolate without symptoms other than avoiding public transportation until you are free of symptoms three weeks after the exposure.
I have had monkeypox, am I now immune?
We are too soon into this outbreak to know whether having Monkeypox protects you from being re-infected. Updates to the status of the outbreak and answers to these questions can be found at the CDC website, at www.CDC.gov/monkeypox.
If you experience an unusual rash, sore, or lesions on any part of your body, especially the genitals, give us a call at 1-833-WE-R-KIND (1-833-937-5463). Regardless of your sexual orientation or where you have traveled, we can rule out if it’s an STI you’re experiencing.
More information on Monkeypox is available from the CDC:
Additional information on sex and Monkeypox https://www.hivplusmag.com/treatment/2022/7/18/can-you-still-hook-during-monkepox-outbreak