COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw just how quickly misinformation can spread especially with social media.
Now as the United States deals with the monkeypox virus outbreak, local leaders are stressing the importance of stopping misinformation.
“I think it’s critically important in order to get messaging out it,” said Director of Stonewall Columbus, Densil Porteous. “Harkens back for some of us to moments of HIV, AIDs when misinformation was being put out or misunderstood information was being put out.”
According to The Centers for Disease Control, monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but it is transmitted through close, personal contact and can impact anyone.
However, with the current rise in cases disproportionately impacting men who have sex with men, misinformation about the virus’s spread and who can get it is an ongoing issue.
“I think again it is important to understand that this is a transmissible virus, that can be transmitted through skin to skin contact, through close contact in those particular moments,” said Porteous. “So that I think, is what we need to ensure people are thinking about.”
Right now vaccine doses are limited meaning health officials are using them for community members who may be at a higher risk.
“We do see that right now much of the equity and need for focus within the community of men who have sex with men,” said Porteous. “And so it has been great to see sort of that language being targeted explicitly as information has been rolling out.”
But with a rise in cases and President Joe Biden declaring a public health emergency, infectious disease doctor Matthew Bauer is hopeful we’ll move towards more of a mass vaccination event to prevent the spread.
“Currently I think we’re moving in that direction pretty fast where this should be available to the general public,” Bauer said.
Bauer said Equitas Health will also be giving an additional 200 vaccines sometime this upcoming week. He is hopeful even more vaccines will be available in the Columbus area in the near future.