It would probably be too much to expect the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) to think through possible social implications in its public information. With the recommendations for the so-called “monkeypox”, which, as reported, some people in Europe, the USA and Canada are ill with, even the experts at the RKI, who are not so well-versed in public relations, could have stumbled across a sentence.

The corresponding RKI bulletin on “monkey pox” contains, in addition to recommendations to doctors which people should be included in “differential diagnostic considerations”, only one sentence that is aimed directly at one group of people: men who have sex with men (MSM) “with unusual skin changes should seek immediate medical attention.”

It remains unclear why other people, such as heterosexual women and men or lesbian women who observe such changes in themselves, are not given such advice, even after asking the RKI several times. In any case, the findings on the transmission routes of “monkey pox” do not give such an exclusive recommendation to only one group of people.

The – otherwise rare – infections were observed in men and women, as well as in small children. So far mainly in West and Central Africa, now also in Europe and the USA. Including men who have sex with men, but not exclusively.

It is not really surprising that the sentence “Monkeypox in Europe – warning to homosexual and bisexual men” would make it into many headlines with this type of warning. And that this could get across to some readers as an abbreviated message: “Get monkeypox neither does gay and bisexual men only.” This, by the way, is not far removed from the “gay plague” when AIDS hit the headlines in the mid-1980s.

Incidentally, the RKI’s answer to the question about the background was, among other things: “We generally do not comment on media reports.” In other words: We are not responsible for the risks and side effects of our recommendations. One might have thought that the institute had learned something new from the corona pandemic.