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First case of Monkeypox reported in California in Sacramento

This is the first case of the monkeypox infection reported in the state of California according to Public Health officials

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Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye (Screenshot/Zoom)

SACRAMENTO – During a virtual Zoom press conference Tuesday morning, Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye told reporters that her department is investigating a potential case of infection of monkeypox in a Sacramento area resident.

This is the first case of the monkeypox infection reported in the state of California according to Public Health officials.

Dr. Kasirye said that Public Health and is waiting for confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), according to Public Health on the case and that resident had recently returned from Europe. Kasirye added the patient is isolated at home and has not been in contact with any other people and any risk to the general public is very minimal.

According to Public Health, monkeypox does not naturally occur in the United States and US cases are related to international travel or importing animals from areas where the disease may exist.

Symptoms may not appear for seven to 14 days after infection and can last two to four weeks, according to Public Health.

The chairman of the World Health Organization Emergency Committee, Professor David L. Heymann told reporters Monday that WHO researchers determined that cases were confirmed stemming from an LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in the Canary Islands that drew tens of thousands of revelers and linked to the Darklands Festival, a large-scale fetish festival in the port city of Antwerp, Belgium.

Monkeypox is not usually fatal but often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization. Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

Monkeypox symptoms:

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

A rash can appear on the face and spread to other parts of the body one to three days after the appearance of a fever, according to Public Health.

For more information regarding Monkeypox visit the official CDC monkeypox page or the CDPH page on the disease.

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Monkeypox

Center for Black Equity awarded grant to combat monkeypox

The grant funds the continuing fight against monkeypox misinformation and lack of access to vaccines & resources within minority communities

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Monkeypox JYNNEOS vaccine (Screenshot/YouTube CBS News)

WASHINGTON – The Center for Black Equity (CBE) has received a $50,000 grant supporting the center’s mission to raise awareness about monkeypox in Black and Latinx LGBTQ communities. The grant will also fund the center’s continuing fight against monkeypox misinformation and lack of access to vaccines and resources within these communities.

The grant, which is a part of a partnership with Gilead Pharmaceuticals, requires the CBE to demonstrate that it has the history and capacity to create and implement a community-wide initiative focusing on monkeypox education and boosting vaccination rates in the Black and Latinx LGBTQ communities.

The CBE is a coalition of international LGBTQ community members, Pride organizations, and community-based organizations that have conducted philanthropic and advocacy work in the LGBTQ community for more than 20 years.

Grant funds will be used in efforts to connect Black and Latinx LGBTQ persons with local community-based organizations that will provide accurate and up-to-date information on monkeypox, direct people to vaccination sites, and improve these communities’ access to monkeypox education and vaccines.

The official kickoff of the CBE’s monkeypox initiative started with a nationwide community leader talk.

“We brought together all of the Black Pride leaders from around the country to talk about monkeypox in their communities, what kind of resources they have, what has been the health department response and what do they need to do their work better,” CBE deputy director Kenya Hutton said.

The CBE will continue to host regular talks with community leaders to support the center’s goal of connecting the needs and voices of the Black and Latinx LGBTQ communities on a nationwide level.

“It’s going to get an idea of what it sounds like or what experiences are from community leaders on the ground level,” Hutton said.

Since monkeypox was officially labeled a public health emergency in the U.S., the LGBTQ community has been vocal about the misinformation surrounding the disease as well as limited resources for LGBTQ communities of color. Many have compared the public health response to monkeypox to the early response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

“In the beginning, the information seemed to focus on white gay men,” Hutton said. “And even though they keep saying the number of monkeypox cases are decreasing, the numbers are increasing in the Black and Latinx communities.”

The CBE has an interactive map on its website where you can input your zip code and find permanent and pop-up vaccination sites near you. You can also sign up for the CBE’s biweekly newsletter with up-to-date monkeypox information online.

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Health

Why gay men and other groups are banned from donating sperm

Donor sperm is quarantined for six months and tested for HIV before being released onto cryobank websites for purchase

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Los Angeles Blade graphic/Memphis Fertility Lab

By Amber Ferguson | WASHINGTON – Sperm banks already have an uphill battle trying to get men of color, especially Black men, to donate sperm. A Washington Post analysis found Black sperm donors represent less than 2 percent of all sperm donors at the country’s four largest cryobanks.

Only about 1 percent of applicants make it through a highly selective process for sperm donation, according to Jaime Shamonki, the chief medical officer at California Cryobank, the country’s largest. While the selection criteria are not specifically targeted at any ethnic group, they contribute to a shortage of Black sperm donors, said Cindy Duke, a Las Vegas reproductive endocrinologist and virologist.

The process requires a detailed physical and psychological exam, a three-generation family medical history, criminal background checks, genetic screening and semen analysis. Men need to be between the ages of 18 and 39 to donate, and many cryobanks require them to be at least 5-foot-7. Donors with higher education are favored.

Over the past two decades, cryobanks have stopped disqualifying donor applicants who are carriers of genetic diseases including Tay-Sachs disease, which is more prevalent among people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, and the sickle cell trait, which is most common among Black people. But the FDA ban on men who have sex with men has remained in place since 2005. The provision is based on data from the 1980s and early 1990s, at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

While donor sperm is quarantined for six months and tested for HIV before being released onto cryobank websites for purchase, the FDA said it had no immediate plans to end the ban.

READ THE FULL STORY: https://wapo.st/3yW0XAV

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Monkeypox

GLAAD examines impact of HIV, COVID, & MPV in new report

A new GLAAD report is out. Invisible People: A Retrospective Report On The Impacts of COVID & HIV In The United States

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By Darian Aaron | NEW YORK – On October 6, in a TIME Magazine exclusive, GLAAD released “Invisible People,” a first-of-its-kind report detailing the disruption caused by COVID-19 in the lives of people living with HIV. The 23-page report combines a comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed scientific literature, qualitative interviews of people living with HIV, affected communities, and community-based organizations (CBOs) serving these populations. 

With research conducted by global market research company Ipsos and completed before the U.S. emergence of the monkeypox virus (MPV), GLAAD has included an MPV addendum to the report that elevates the disproportionate impact of MPV, HIV, and COVID-19 among Black Americans. Through data and first-person narratives, the report highlights the source of medical mistrust in Black communities, examines the lack of access to consistent healthcare during the pandemic, and most recently, inadequate access to the JYNNEOS MPV vaccine, despite the disproportionate occurrence of MPV among Black gay and bisexual men. 

GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis draws a parallel between the devastating outcomes for LGBTQ people of color across the three major health crises. 

“LGBTQ people and queer people of color are disproportionately affected in the pandemic, yet data collection didn’t begin for months to help guide responses and resources, and our voices were vastly underreported across the media,” Ellis says. “These are painful parallels to the early days of HIV/AIDS when GLAAD was formed to fight inaccuracy and invisibility.”

As of October 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 27,022 MPV cases across the United States. A steady decline in new cases—a national seven-day moving average of 63 cases as of October 12—is attributed to vaccinations and behavioral changes among gay and bisexual men. However, data from the CDC confirms that while Black and Latino gay and bisexual men represent the overwhelming majority of MPV cases, white and Latino men have received their first dose of the vaccine at a much higher rate. 

The inequity in vaccine distribution and the reality that unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to acquire MPV has exacerbated racial healthcare disparities in Black communities that existed long before the current outbreak. 

Is history repeating itself?  

In a separate interview, pioneering HIV activist Phill Wilson, founder of The Black AIDS Institute, says the “parallels are scary” in the context of the U.S. response to the early HIV/AIDS crisis and the slow response to the threat of MPV among Black gay and bisexual men in 2022. 

“During the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, I used to quote my grandmother—probably your grandmother, too: “When white people get a cold, Black people get pneumonia,” Wilson says. 

“The parallels are scary—first, the denial, then the blaming, then the slow response and missed opportunities. And finally, the disproportionate impact on Black, other POC (people of color), and poor communities,” he adds. 

“All the earliest information about how the COVID-19 pathogen was transmitted said that Black, brown, and poor people would be disproportionately impacted. And yet, those in power did not develop strategies targeting those communities. The opposite happened.” 

A California resident, Wilson provides a first-person account of his vaccination experience in Van Nuys, a suburb of Los Angeles situated in the San Fernando Valley.  

“I showed up at the pop-up vaccination station at about 10:15 in the morning. They didn’t open until 11:00 am. There were already 100 people in line,” Wilson says. “They had 400 vaccines available that day. By the time I left at 3:00 pm, they had closed the line for the day. I counted less than five Black men, four or five Latino men, and maybe one Asian man getting vaccinated. Four hundred, presumably LGBTQ+ people, were vaccinated that day, and less than 3% were BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color).” 

To combat the inequity in the MPV vaccine rollout, the CDC has created a Vaccine Equity Pilot Program to reach populations most affected by MPV but less likely to be vaccinated. 

In the report, GLAAD also calls out the inherent homophobia that precipitated the naming of HIV as a “gay disease” in the early days of the epidemic. This stigmatizing language has also been echoed during the recent MPV outbreak because most cases are among gay and bisexual men. 

Ryan Lee, an Atlanta-based writer, was diagnosed with MPV in July and has since recovered. He says he understands why gay men are reluctant to bare the social responsibility of MPV. 

“The burden and shame that gay men have borne regarding our sexual health have created generational trauma and anxieties. And five months of monkeypox have already stoked the bigotry and judgment in those who love telling gay folks how sick and dirty we are,” Lee says. 

“So I understand the reluctance of queer folks to be closely associated with a new illness, but we must recognize monkeypox is currently a disease that disproportionately impacts gay men.”

According to reports published in August, the fear and anxiety experienced by many gay and bisexual men and the refusal of some phlebotomists to administer the MPV vaccine are reminiscent of a dark era in our nation’s history that many hoped never to repeat. 

“There is something spooky about sitting in a folding chair in 2022, surrounded by other gay men in folding chairs, waiting to be vaccinated by healthcare workers who wear personal protective equipment and immediately wipe down each vacated chair with disinfectant,” says Amanda Cary, manager for the gay men’s sexual health clinic at Whitman-Walker in D.C, in a story published in The Washington Post

“Invisible People” lays bare the outcome of slow to no inaction when three health crises converge and target an already marginalized group of people. Through this report, GLAAD continues to elevate the stories and voices of LGBTQ people living with HIV at greater risk for COVID and MPV acquisitions. 

“We have to learn from the lessons of each epidemic to be better prepared for the next,” says Andres Cantero Jr., a study participant. “People living with HIV, like all chronic conditions, should know that we can count on care that keeps us alive and helps prevent the spread of HIV.” 

“We just lost two years,” says Ellis. “We need folks to look up, wake up, and realize that we as a community and a country can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can deal with a major pandemic while not forgetting about our most marginalized folks.”

Read the complete GLAAD report  Invisible People: A Retrospective Report On The Impacts of COVID & HIV In The United States.

*******************

Photo credit: Lee Jones Photography 

Darian Aaron is the MPV project coordinator for GLAAD. He is also communications director of CNP (Counter Narrative Project), and editor-at-large of CNP’s digital publication The Reckoning.

His work can also be read across multiple platforms as a contributor for Q Digital. Follow him on Twitter @darianoutloud

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Coronavirus

Newsom announces end of the COVID-19 State of Emergency

California’s pandemic response efforts have saved tens of thousands of lives, kept people out of the hospital and protected the economy

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Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly gives Gov. Gavin Newsom COVID-19 booster shot (Blade file photo)

SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency will end on February 28, 2023, charting the path to phasing out one of the most effective and necessary tools that California has used to combat COVID-19.

This timeline gives the health care system needed flexibility to handle any potential surge that may occur after the holidays in January and February, in addition to providing state and local partners the time needed to prepare for this phaseout and set themselves up for success afterwards.

With hospitalizations and deaths dramatically reduced due to the state’s vaccination and public health efforts, California has the tools needed to continue fighting COVID-19 when the State of Emergency terminates at the end of February, including vaccines and boosters, testing, treatments and other mitigation measures like masking and indoor ventilation.

As the State of Emergency is phased out, the SMARTER Plan continues to guide California’s strategy to best protect people from COVID-19.

SMARTER Plan Progress Update

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been guided by the science and data – moving quickly and strategically to save lives. The State of Emergency was an effective and necessary tool that we utilized to protect our state, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without it,” said Newsom. “With the operational preparedness that we’ve built up and the measures that we’ll continue to employ moving forward, California is ready to phase out this tool.”
 
To maintain California’s COVID-19 laboratory testing and therapeutics treatment capacity, the Newsom Administration will be seeking two statutory changes immediately upon the Legislature’s return: 1) The continued ability of nurses to dispense COVID-19 therapeutics; and 2) The continued ability of laboratory workers to solely process COVID-19 tests.

“California’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prepared us for whatever comes next. As we move into this next phase, the infrastructure and processes we’ve invested in and built up will provide us the tools to manage any ups and downs in the future,” said Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly. “While the threat of this virus is still real, our preparedness and collective work have helped turn this once crisis emergency into a manageable situation.”
 
Throughout the pandemic, Governor Newsom, the Legislature and state agencies have been guided by the science and data to best protect Californians and save lives – with a focus on those facing the greatest social and health inequities – remaining nimble to adapt mitigation efforts along the way as we learned more about COVID-19. The state’s efforts to support Californians resulted in:

  • Administration of 81 million vaccinations, distribution of a billion units of PPE throughout the state and processing of 186 million tests. 
  • Allocation of billions of dollars to support hospitals, community organizations, frontline workers, schools and more throughout the pandemic. 
  • The nation’s largest stimulus programs to support people hardest hit by the pandemic – $18.5 billion for direct payments to Californians, $8 billion for rent relief, $10 billion for small business grants and tax relief, $2.8 billion to help with overdue utility bills, and more.  

California’s pandemic response efforts have saved tens of thousands of lives, kept people out of the hospital and protected the economy:

  • California’s death rate is the lowest amongst large states. If California had Texas’ death rate, 27,000 more people would have died here. If California had Florida’s rate, that figure jumps to approximately 56,000 more deaths.
  • In only the first ten months of vaccines being available, a study showed that California’s efforts saved 20,000 lives, kept 73,000 people out of the hospital and prevented 1.5 million infections.  
  • California’s actions during the pandemic protected the economy and the state continues to lead the nation in creating jobs and new business starts:
    • ‘Lockdown’ states like California did better economically than ‘looser’ states like Florida, new COVID data shows,” with California’s economy having contracted less than such states – economic output shrank 3.5% on average for the U.S., compared with 2.8% for California.
    • Since February 2021, California has created 1,628,300 new jobs – over 16% of the nation’s jobs, by far more than any other state. By comparison, Texas created 1,133,200 jobs (11.3% of the nation’s) and Florida created 787,600 jobs (7.9% of the nation’s) in that same timeframe.
    • Since the beginning of 2019, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that over 569,000 businesses started in California, by far more than any other state.
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Monkeypox

LA County Public Health expands Monkeypox vaccination eligibility

Eligible residents can go to a Public vaccinating site or visit Myturn.ca.gov to find other vaccinating sites near you

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has expanded eligibility to the monkeypox vaccine to closely align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent expansion, which includes persons in select occupational groups whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses (such as monkeypox).

Monkeypox vaccine will be available to residents who self-attest to being in the following groups:

  • Gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men or transgender people who have sex with men or other transgender people
  • Persons of any gender or sexual orientation who engage in commercial and/or transactional sex
  • Persons living with HIV, especially persons with uncontrolled or advanced HIV disease
  • Persons who had skin-to-skin or intimate contact with someone with suspected or confirmed monkeypox, including those who have not yet been confirmed by Public Health
  • (NEW) Sexual partners of people in any of the above groups
  • (NEW) People who anticipate being in any of the above groups

Monkeypox vaccine is also available for persons in select occupational groups whose may be exposed to orthopoxviruses including:

  • Research laboratory personnel working with orthopoxviruses
  • Clinical laboratory personnel performing diagnostic testing for orthopoxviruses
  • Designated public health response team members
  • Health care personnel who administer ACAM2000 (Smallpox [Vaccinia] Vaccine)
  • Designated health care workers who care for persons with suspected or confirmed orthopoxvirus infections, including clinicians and environmental services personnel

Note that the risk of monkeypox transmission remains very low for health care workers if appropriate personal protective equipment is worn and other infection control practices are followed.

Eligible residents can go to a Public vaccinating site or visit Myturn.ca.gov to find other vaccinating sites near you.

Residents do not need to show ID in order to get a vaccine at sites run by Public Health. However, because residents may need to show vaccination record and ID if you travel or visit certain venues, it is recommended that when getting a vaccine that residents provide the name that is on their ID.

Residents who met prior eligibility criteria can still get vaccinated (see below for prior criteria).

Gay or bisexual men or transgender people who:

  • Had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 14 days
  • Had skin-to-skin or intimate contact with persons at venues or events in the past 14 days
  • Had a history of early syphilis or gonorrhea in the past 12 months
  • Are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners in the past 21 days in a commercial sex venue or other venue.

Residents who have monkeypox symptoms or are currently under isolation for monkeypox, should not come to the vaccination clinics or walk-up sites. If residents think they have monkeypox, they should speak with a provider and get tested. If residents do not have a provider, residents can call the Public Health Call Center for more information on monkeypox, including general information, testing, treatment, and vaccines at (833) 540-0473 (open 7 days a week 8am – 8:30pm).

For more information, please visit: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/monkeypox/.   

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Monkeypox

Los Angeles County Supervisors approve sick leave for monkeypox

Both coronavirus and the monkeypox outbreak has disproportionately affected essential workers, who are predominantly Black and Latino

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting room (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion Tuesday, sponsored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl, which directs County attorneys to report back to the board in three weeks on how the County could implement a paid sick leave policy for people who contract monkeypox, or other new and emerging infectious diseases.

The Board also is urging California Governor Gavin Newsom to extend the state’s coronavirus supplemental paid sick leave by signing the AB-152 COVID-19 relief leave bill.

Supervisor Solis prior to the vote pointed out that both coronavirus pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak has disproportionately affected essential workers, who are predominantly Black and Latino.

Solis further noted that without a form of paid sick leave, are in most cases, unable to take the recommended five to 10 days to isolate for COVID-19 — much less the two to four weeks needed to isolate for the duration of a monkeypox diagnosis as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the County Dept. of Public Health .

During a monkeypox townhall hosted by the Blade in East Los Angeles last week, which was also attended by Supervisor Solis, Sherrill Brown, M.D, AltaMed’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention, in her presentation noted the need for economic relief.

In her practice treating primarily Latino monkeypox cases at AltaMed clinics in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, she told the townhall attendees she was hearing some of her patients were having difficulty with the required isolation protocols because of their economic needs.

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