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Spain leads Europe in monkeypox, struggles to contain spread

As a sex worker and adult film actor, Roc was relieved when he became the first Spaniard to receive the monkeypox vaccine. He knew of several cases among men who had sex with men, a key demographic for the disease, and feared he might be next. 3}

"I went home and thought, 'Oh God, I'm saved,'" a 29-year-old woman told the Associated Press.

But it was too late. Roc, the name he uses at his job, had been infected by a client a few days earlier. He took part in the steadily rising number of monkeypox cases in Spain, the highest in Europe since the disease spread beyond Africa, where it had been endemic for many years.

He began exhibiting symptoms such as pustules, fever, conjunctivitis, and fatigue. Roc was hospitalized for treatment and released after recovering.

Spanish health officials and community groups are struggling to check the outbreak that has killed two young men. They reportedly died of encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, which can be caused by some viruses.Most monkeypox cases cause only mild symptoms.

In Spain, in the three months since the outbreak began, he has had 4,942 confirmed cases, linked to his two raves in Europe, and experts say the virus He said it was likely spread through sexual intercourse.

The only country with more cases than Spain is the much larger United States, which has reported 7,100 cases.

Global numbers

Overall, the global monkeypox epidemic has seen more than 26,000 confirmed cases in nearly 90 countries since May. I'm here. In Africa, 103 deaths are suspected, mainly in Nigeria and Congo. Monkeypox is more deadly in these areas than in the West.

Health experts stress that it is not technically a sexually transmitted disease, but it is found among gay and bisexual men, who account for 98% of cases outside Africa. , is spread primarily through sex. The virus can spread to people who come into close physical contact with an infected person, their clothing, or bed sheets.

Part of the complexity of the fight against monkeypox lies in not stigmatizing men who have sex with men, and in promoting vaccines and greater awareness among those most at risk today.

Spain has distributed 5,000 shots of double dose vaccine to clinics, with another 7,000 shots coming from the EU in the next few days. The health ministry said it will receive it. The EU has purchased 160,000 of her doses and donates them to Member States as needed. Block expects another 70,000 shots to become available next week.

To ensure that these immunizations are administered wisely, community groups and sexual health associations target gay men, bisexuals and transgender women.

In Barcelona, ​​the BCN Checkpoint, which focuses on AIDS/HIV prevention in the gay and transgender community, is currently reaching out to at-risk people and providing them with one of the most valuable vaccines. offers one.

Pep Coll, medical director of BCN Checkpoint, said the vaccine deployment will help people who are already at risk of contracting HIV and who are on preventive treatment, men with multiple sexual partners, and drugged sex, and people with suppressed immune responses.

But there are about 15,000 people in Barcelona alone who fit these categories more than doses, Col said.

Because vaccine shortages are much more acute in Africa than in Europe or the United States, social public health policies have become important, experts say.

Contact tracing becomes more difficult Physical contact makes some people hesitant to share information.

"There's a steady stream of new cases, and more deaths are likely, because contact tracing is so complicated.

In Spain, 80% of cases are men who have sex with men and only 1.5% are women. But Garcia argued that things will change unless the public at large understands that having a variety of sexual partners poses greater risks, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Given vaccine shortages and problems with contact tracing, there is growing pressure to encourage prevention.

Sebastian Meyer, president of the STOP SIDA association dedicated to AIDS/HIV care in the LGBTQ community of Barcelona, ​​logically believes that his group and others such as said the group would be bearers of credible messages with personalized knowledge about how to drive home health warnings.

Community groups representing gay and bisexual men , which has flooded social media, websites and blogs with information about the safety of monkeypox, authorities in Catalonia, a region that includes Barcelona with more than 1,500 cases, have tested positive for the disease on dating apps Tinder and Grindr.

But Meyer believes fatigue from the COVID-19 pandemic may play a role: Doctors warn people with monkeypox lesions Advise people to isolate until they are fully cured, which can take up to three weeks.

You close the web page and forget what you read," Meyer said. "We just came out of COVID when we couldn't do this or that, and now we're back here. People hate it and put their heads in the sand."