Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and the Federal Government’s Queer Commissioner, Sven Lehmann, have warned against stigmatizing gay men in connection with monkeypox. It must be prevented “that people who are homosexual and have sex with men are stigmatized,” said Lauterbach (SPD) on Wednesday evening in the ZDF program “Markus Lanz”. “It’s just important to say: It can happen to anyone.”

The Greens politician Lehmann told the newspapers of the Funke media group that it was a fallacy “that gay or bisexual men are more at risk. The virus knows no sexual orientation.” “Fear-mongering and stigmatization” must be avoided at all costs.

Self-government, telematics, Morbi-RSA: The briefing on health

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), monkeypox is transmitted from person to person through close physical contact. Cases have so far been diagnosed particularly in men who have same-sex sex. Lauterbach also pointed this out on Tuesday: “The main risk group at the moment are men who have had sex with other men. And you have to be able to address that in order to protect this group.”

Increased sensitivity to the transmission of monkeypox is important, Lehmann said. This also includes “target group-specific addressing of men who have sex with men”. However, he added that increased vigilance for symptoms must apply to all people. “Many gay men are reminded of the beginning of the AIDS crisis, when the infection was attributed exclusively to gay men. As a result, gay men were stigmatized and other groups were given little protection.”

Monkeypox is a less dangerous cousin of smallpox, which was eradicated about 40 years ago. Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that often starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. Most people recover within a few weeks.

Lauterbach further explained on the show: “Monkeypox is not a disease where we would even have to fear a pandemic. (…) There will be no pandemic.” Monkeypox is a “completely different disease” than the corona virus, said the minister. It doesn’t spread that quickly, the virus is more harmless. In addition, the West African variant of monkeypox is “non-fatal in 99 percent of cases, even in Africa, where the health systems are not good”.

You have to expect that the sick will be contagious for at least 21 days. Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Health, together with the RKI, made the following recommendation: “You have to be in isolation for 21 days, either in the hospital or at home. (…) Those who have been in direct contact (…) should be quarantined for 21 days.”

He also procured a monkeypox vaccine to protect “exposed people”. According to the Federal Minister of Health, a corresponding recommendation as to which groups of people should be vaccinated is currently being worked on.

According to EU health authorities, more than 200 cases of monkeypox have now been confirmed outside of Africa. A total of 19 countries where the disease does not normally occur have confirmed at least one case, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday evening. “Most of the cases are young men who self-identify as men who have sex with men. There were no deaths,” added the Stockholm-based European agency.

Outside of the 11 African countries where this rare disease is endemic, most confirmed cases are currently concentrated in three countries: the UK (71 cases), Spain (51) and Portugal (37). A total of 191 cases were confirmed in Europe, plus 15 in Canada, nine in the United States, two in Australia, one each in Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Suspected cases were not counted in the balance sheet.