Homophobia misinformation is making it harder to stop the spread of smallpox in monkeys

That job is made more difficult by false, often homophonic theories that are spreading all over the major social media platforms, according to research conducted for the MIT Technology Review by the Center for Against digital hate. These false claims are making it harder for the public to convince them that monkeypox can affect everyone and that they may prevent people from reporting potential infections.

Some of this disinformation overlaps with familiar pandemic conspiracy theories that attack Bill Gates and the “global elite” or suggests that the virus was developed in a laboratory. But much of it is directly homophobic and trying to blame the outbreak on the LGBTQ+ community. Several Twitter posts claim that countries where anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is illegal are the regions with the highest rates of smallpox, aka the virus’s “revenge of god.” . In a video shared on Twitter last month, Congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia falsely claimed that “monkey pox is really only transmitted primarily through homosexual sex.”

Homophobic comments on articles about monkeypox that have been liked by thousands on Facebook have been allowed to remain online, with one particular paragraph garnering hundreds of outraged reactions to be shared more than 40,000 times via Telegram.

A YouTube video on a channel with 1.12 million subscribers that includes false claims that monkeypox can be avoided by not participating in gay parties, not being bitten by rodents or adopt a prairie dog as a pet. It has been viewed more than 178,000 times. Another video, from a channel with 294,000 subscribers, claims that women who get monkeypox from “contact with one man may have some other contact with another man”; it has been viewed nearly 30,000 times. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Such stigma has real consequences – infected people may be reluctant to discuss their sex lives less likely to report their symptoms, making it difficult to track cases. new and more effective disease control.

In fact, the virus can affect anyone and is unaware of everyone’s identity or sexual activity. Julii Brainard, a senior research associate at the University of East Anglia who works on modeling, said misinformation suggested that monkeypox only affected men who had sex with men. can convince people they have a lower risk of disease than they really are. threaten public health. “A lot of people will think, ‘That doesn’t apply to me,’” she said.

This is not helped by the fact that we are still uncertain about all the ways that monkeypox can be transmitted or how it is currently spreading. We know it’s spread through close contact with an infected person or animal, but WHO says it is also investigating reports that the virus is present in human semen, suggesting it can also be transmitted. sexually, although sequence data to date do not provide evidence that monkeypox behaves like an STD. It is also not known which animal species serves as a natural reservoir for monkeypox (the host that sustains the virus in the wild), although WHO suspects it is rodents.

While it is still unclear how or where the outbreak occurred, WHO believes that outside of some countries in West and Central Africa where the virus is frequently found, it has begun to spread from person to person, mainly in men who have sex with men, after two releases. in Spain and Belgium. While typical monkeypox symptoms include swollen lymph nodes followed by blisters on the face, hands and feet, many people affected by the most recent outbreak have had few lesions. more, developing on the hands, anus, mouth, and genitals. This difference may be related to the nature of the contact.

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