Washington D.C 4 May 2023 (PAHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced a groundbreaking initiative with Grindr LLC (Grindr) through its social networking app, to ensure key information on monkeypox (mpox) reaches lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and more (LGBTQI+) communities in the Region of the Americas.
PAHO and Grindr will work together to tackle misinformation on mpox and address critical information gaps – particularly around prevention, treatment, and care – among those groups who are disproportionately at risk of mpox infections.
The initiative further contemplates discussing and addressing ways to support non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing communication activities around the virus, in coordination with institutions working with LGBTQI+ communities.
“When it comes to public health, it is crucial that we meet people where they are most comfortable, with the tools they already use in their day-to-day lives,” said Dr. Ruben Mayorga-Sagastume, Chief of HIV, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, and Sexually Transmitted Infections Unit, and Incident Manager for mpox at PAHO.
“Clear and concise information on measures that people can take to protect their health is key to controlling and preventing outbreaks of infectious disease,” he added. “We welcome this opportunity to work with Grindr to provide this information where it is needed the most.”
“Our communities can best care for themselves when they have as much information as possible. This is a crucial step to addressing the societal stigma and gaps in care around mpox, which disproportionately affects LGBTQ people. We are glad to work with PAHO and serve Grindr users throughout the Americas,” Steph Niaupari, Equality Outreach Manager of Grindr said.
Mpox is a viral zoonotic disease caused by the mpox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus. Mpox virus is transmitted from one person to another through close contact with lesions, body fluids and contaminated materials, such as bedding. The current outbreak of the virus, which began in Europe and is particularly affecting men who have sex with men, is characterized by rash or skin lesions that are usually concentrated on the penis, anus, mouth, face, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet.
In May 2022, several countries where mpox is not endemic reported cases, including countries of the Americas. On 23 July 2022, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the multi-country outbreak of mpox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
To date, almost 60,000 confirmed cases of mpox and 116 deaths have been reported in 41 countries and territories of the Americas.
In response to the mpox outbreak, PAHO developed a series of tools to guide countries’ efforts to effectively disseminate available evidence and knowledge to the most at-risk groups.
PAHO continues to support Member States with surveillance, preparedness, and outbreak response activities. It was also the first WHO region to make mpox vaccines available to countries as part of the emergency response.