It is better to change the name “monkeypox”
New York City health officials asked the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday (July 26) to rename monkeypox. This name is stigmatizing and may cause patients to isolate themselves rather than seek care.
“We are increasingly concerned about the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that messages about the monkeypox virus can have on (already vulnerable) communities,” wrote New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan in a letter to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had already mentioned this possible change in mid-June, as Mr. Vasan recalls in his letter. Vasan recalls in his letter.
According to the Health Commissioner, this “terminology” is also “rooted in a racist and painful history for communities of color.
During his letter, he recalls the adverse effects of misinformation during the AIDS virus (HIV) outbreak or the racism suffered by Asian communities after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Continuing to use the term +monkeypox+ to describe the current epidemic can reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma – especially for black people and other people of colour, as well as members of LGBTQIA+ communities, and they may avoid seeking vital health care services because of it,” Ashwin Vasan adds.
New York City is the most affected city in the U.S. in several cases, with 1,092 infections detected since the beginning of the epidemic.