Haven't we been been here before?
Jesus H Christ.
Thanks for scaring the living hell out of me, although I know that was not your intent, Michelangelo. The story you relate isn't just similar to those we read in the early HIV epidemic, but even more creepily, to those we read long before it was even called AIDS, but rather GRID, back before the virus itself had even been clearly identified.
And what makes this story particularly disturbing is this: Unlike during those very disturbing times, we know that this lethal pathogen is a virus, that there's a vaccine for it, and that there is a readily identifiable population that can be targeted for immediate suppression of this serious and now no longer "looming" public health crisis.
I write this not as a gay man, but rather as a hemophiliac; part of a group of people who were almost nearly wiped off the face of planet earth due to fecklessness and indifference by government and infighting by ostensibly responsible public health NGOs in the '80s.
"And The Band Played On." We will see the sequel unless:
People like you keep using your forum to write about this until the government and the media gets up off their dead asses and does something. Please keep on them all about this. Thank you.
A good, balanced take. I remember well the dark days of AIDS, when it didn't have a name. Though we are in a much better position now, it's hard to shake the thought that if it weren't perceived as a "gay disease," government action on monkey pox would be much more robust.
If you think Mr. Signorile's account is harrowing, hie thee over to Vice.com's site for a gay man's perspective on contracting and the subsequent quest for treatment for Monkeypox. I moved back to the bible belt in '90 to escape AIDS and funerals. This slow walking indifference to information sharing from the government is about par for course when they're crafting their messaging campaign...
Great article with much useful information. I just wish I had a subscription to the NYT so I could read the attached articles. Please keep us informed, Michaelangelo!
All really well said Michelangelo, as always. The government response has been way too slow clearly. Yes there is a medication, but it is an investigational new drug that requires huge amounts of paperwork that takes nearly 2 hours to complete. This is completely disrupting the care of all other patients in the LGBTQ+ clinics that have been in the forefront of responding to this. And clearly the public health response needs a big supercharge. I think, though, that we also need to acknowledge the failure in the gay male community to respond adequately. Yes, people are clamoring for vaccines. But vaccines are not effective until 2 weeks after the second dose given 1 month after the first. Stopping this virus is going to require massive behavior change on the part of gay men to prevent the skin-to skin contact that spreads monkeypox. When a colleague of mine suggested to one of his patients that he not do random hookups for a while until fully vaccinated the response was "I don't know if I can do that." I don't want to go all Larry Kramer and yell at people to stop having sex, but if gay men could just cool it for a couple of months, stay away from bathhouses and back rooms, keep the lights on and really look at their partners, maybe know something about the people they are having sex with, maybe we could end this. By the time we knew HIV was in the community and saw people with AIDS, it was too late. People with full-blown disease were only the tip of a huge iceberg. Thousands and thousands of people were infected already. That's not the case with monkeypox. Anyone who's lived through HIV and Covid could see that when the first cases popped up in Europe it was going to spread to here. Did that stop people from going to events like IML, from having sex parties or doing anything to change their behavior? Isn't it time we learned that some behavior modification can do amazing things to stop an epidemic from getting worse? So while I demand that our government do more and get its act together to make vaccination and treatment more available I also demand that our community do more to protect itself and take the easy steps to avoid spreading this virus to one another.
I worry that the 2020s will be known as the Viral Decade--not for YouTube videos, or TokTik sensations, or Instagram stars. No, for actual viruses. We're only two-and-a-half years into the decade, and look at us: willfully denying the continued ravages of one virus (COVID-19) and completely unable to get help to those who need it for another (Monkeypox).
Lord only knows what years three through ten have in store.