The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that black men in Georgia have been hit harder than anyone else by the monkeypox epidemic. The Georgia Department of Public Health released new data a few weeks ago, and it did not predict this discrepancy. On the other hand, Black people saw this coming a long time ago.
The situation with COVID-19 among Black people, where they were unable to get vaccinated, tested, or receive adequate care, is strikingly similar to the current situation with monkeypox. According to a CNN report from earlier this month, 54% of the earliest cases submitted to the CDC involved men of color who had recently engaged in sexual contact with another man. It has spread even further in the past few weeks, affecting the entire neighborhood.
We weren’t even talking about this in our communities of color when it was circulating in Europe a few weeks ago. Dr. Jonathan Colasanti, medical director of the Ponce De Leon Center at Grady Memorial Hospital, told AJC that “there was an initial perception that this was in, largely white communities and white, gay and MSM (men having sex with men) communities.”
The AJC has more on the monkeypox outbreak in Georgia.
The Department of Public Health reports that there are 749 confirmed cases in Georgia as of Wednesday, including eight female patients. The true figure is most likely much larger. DPH data, available for 74% of cases, shows the following racial breakdown: Population breakdown: 82% Black, 14% White, 1% Asian, 3% Multiracial/Other. Hispanics make up 6% of the total population. While metro Atlanta accounts for the vast majority of reported cases in Georgia, the state also has seen the disease in 25 counties outside of the capital city. According to DPH, nearly 99% of cases are in men, and the vast majority of cases are in men who have sex with other men. From 18 to 66 years old, with a median age of 34.
Exactly why, then, is monkeypox more prevalent in our area than in others? AJC reports that this is due to racial and economic disparities in healthcare, citing the opinions of experts in the field.
That kind of inequality exists for African Americans in every aspect of health. There is a severe lack of health equity. People have a negative view of the medical establishment because of the many reasons they don’t use medical services. Despite the availability of vaccines, some people remain on the fence, according to Nathan Townsend, manager of prevention services at NAESM, an organization that promotes Black gay health, as quoted by the AJC.
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