Monkey pox: the LGBT community stigmatized on social networks

Monkey pox: the LGBT community stigmatized on social networks

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As regional health agencies organize the monkeypox vaccination campaign, access to doses remains difficult. A complication to which are added the discrimination suffered by the LGBTQI + community, due to this disease.

On his phone, Philippe receives an alert. A new dose of monkeypox vaccine is available near his home in Île-de-France. However, he barely had time to click that “the dose has already disappeared”, explains the fifty-year-old. Like him, there are several of them in France desperately waiting for a share of this precious serum, sometimes for months. However, homosexuals and bisexuals have been part of the priority public for vaccination since the High Health Authority recommended it on July 8.

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Doses difficult to access

In 70 vaccination centers the doses have started to arrive, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday July 13. In detail, it is more than 7,500 doses against monkeypox, which have already been destocked, indicated Doctor Clément Lazarus, of the General Directorate of Health.

However, in practice, access to doses is difficult in certain areas of France. On social networks, many criticize the French vaccine strategy which lacks “consistency, simplicity and coordination”. Valentin, 29, bears the brunt of it, in Rennes “there is no appointment possible. The CHU lists the people who call and recontacts them as and when I called on Monday July 11 and still nothing.” In Montpellier, it’s the same problem, Max can’t find an available dose “before August 9”.

Faced with these difficulties, some Internet users organize themselves directly on social networks. On Twitter, several accounts give their tips in certain departments. On Instagram, it is the influencers who are part of the LGBTQI+ community who are taking the problem head on. Manly B, has been publishing for a few days in her “story” – ephemeral photo on the social network – the vacant appointments she finds in Paris. “Several people came to tell me in private message that they had been able to get vaccinated thanks to me.”

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Added to the disease is the stigma

If the disease itself is complicated for infected individuals to live with, homosexual people also suffer significant stigma. For Lucie Jomat, president of the SOS Homophobia association, the problem lies in the fact that this disease was associated from the start with the community because it broke out in a group of homosexual people. “Now when someone tweets that they’re infected to raise awareness of symptoms, there’s a lot of homophobic comments in the comments.”

Messages that Philippe sees every day, on his Twitter feed. “Stop sleeping with everyone” or “must not go to brothel” are commonplace on the social network. “Soon, when everyone will be affected, we will say that it is our fault, that we have contaminated the others”, he judges.

Unintentional stigmatization may also be exercised by some physicians. Preconceived ideas can thus lead to misdiagnoses in heterosexual people. Their number could be underestimated because “even if the symptoms are there, we will direct them to something else. In the minds of some caregivers, only homosexual people can catch it”, estimates Lucile Jomat.

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