Efforts to avoid summer spread are spurred by elevated mpox cases

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Mpox cases have been elevated since October, with an average of roughly 200 monthly cases detected per month, spurring efforts to avoid a summer surge like what was seen in 2022.
The outbreak in 2022 spread mostly among men who have sex with men.
According to Hujdich, the continued presence of mpox in the U.S. reflects the inequitable access that different communities have to immunization.
A study released by the CDC last year found that two-thirds of people eligible for mpox vaccination remained unimmunized.
In the U.S., mpox still remains largely contained to the social networks of men who have sex with men, not yet becoming a pathogen of concern for the general public.
The federal government launched its interagency “Summer of Pride” initiative last year to advance health equity in the LGBTQ community.
A CDC official confirmed that the initiative will continue on into 2024 with a focus on addressing mpox vaccinations.
“The ‘Summer of Pride’ Initiative for LGBTQI+ Events started in 2023, and will continue into 2024,” a CDC spokesperson told The Hill.

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The number of mpox cases has increased since October, averaging about 200 cases per month. This has prompted attempts to prevent a summer spike in cases similar to the one that occurred in 2022.

The first three months of this year have seen nearly twice the rate of cases seen at the same time last year, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This difference in numbers between the first quarter of 2023 and 2024 is startling.

Comparing results from year to year has been advised against by federal health officials. When contacted for comment on the state of affairs, a CDC representative informed The Hill that although the U. S. while there is still a “low level of risk for most people,” there are more cases than there were a year ago. “.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 576 cases of mpox were found between January and March 16 of this year, and 771 cases were found between October and December of 2023.

Health professionals who are keeping an eye on the trend are urging focused action.

The National Coalition for LGBTQ Health’s executive director, Brian Hujdich, told The Hill, “I would encourage them to increase their communication efforts and to continue providing the information so that people have the information to make decisions about their preventative health care.”.

In 2022, men who have sex with men are the main group affected by the outbreak. The gay and bisexual communities were recognized for having contributed significantly to the containment of the outbreak by being more cautious in social and sexual situations and receiving the Jynneos smallpox vaccination.

Hujdich claims that the ongoing existence of mpox in the U.S. S. represents the unequal access to vaccination that exists among various communities. He ascribed this to the fact that, until recently, the mpox vaccine was solely accessible through public health agencies, which meant that obstacles like distance from a clinic or supply existed.

Jynneos’ maker, Bavarian Nordic, declared last week that the product will now be offered for sale in the United States. S. increasing accessibility and enabling individuals to receive vaccinations in locations that suit them best or where they are able to.

Two thirds of those who could have received the mpox vaccination did not, according to a CDC study published last year.

Former health advisor to former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), Jay Varma, chief medical officer of SIGA Technologies, stated he was not shocked by the recent increase in cases. We still don’t fully understand how long vaccination protection lasts, and the behavioral changes that gay and bisexual men made during the outbreak were difficult to maintain, he said.

We are aware that the length of protection can fluctuate greatly and even diminish, and the only way to determine the durability of a vaccine’s protection is to wait for the effects of time to wear off. After all, there is no time machine that can predict how long a vaccine will last.

within the U. S. mpox hasn’t yet spread to the general public as a pathogen of concern; it’s still mostly restricted to the social networks of men who have sex with other men. Though heterosexual encounters between men and sex workers are a major vector of transmission, Varma cautioned that this could change, citing the mpox outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as evidence.

Fears of yet another significant uptick in the U. S. are expanding as the nation approaches summer, a time when social events and travel increase. While federal health officials have their own preventive measure, Hujdich’s organization is currently preparing to launch an awareness campaign before summer.

The goal of the federal government’s interagency “Summer of Pride” initiative was to improve health equity for the LGBTQ community last year. The Department of Health and Human Services lists the uprising of awareness regarding mpox vaccinations as one of the program’s major accomplishments.

The program will continue into 2024, with an emphasis on mpox vaccinations, a CDC official confirmed. The program will draw attention to the effectiveness of Jynneos and the differences in immunization rates between Black and Latino men.

A CDC representative told The Hill, “The ‘Summer of Pride’ Initiative for LGBTQI+ Events started in 2023, and will continue into 2024.”. “The planning phase is just beginning. “.

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