Health care inequity rears its head in Georgia, where monkeypox is spreading fastest among Black men

Health care inequity rears its head in Georgia, where monkeypox is spreading fastest among Black men

Black men in Georgia are being disproportionately impacted by the latest terrifying virus to hit the planet. Monkeypox, early data shows, is spreading fastest in Atlanta among Black men.

“A few weeks ago, when this was circulating in Europe, this wasn’t even being talked about in our communities of color. And I think there was an initial perception that this was in largely white communities and white, gay, and MSM (men who have sex with men) communities,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Jonathan Colasanti told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC).

“But, I just want our folks here at home to know that that’s absolutely not the case. … And at this point in Atlanta, (monkeypox is) very heavily concentrated within communities of color, based on the early epidemiologic data we have,” Colasanti adds.

RELATED STORY: U.S. declares public health emergency over monkeypox; LGBTQ+ activists say it’s ‘all too late’

Confirmed cases in Georgia were up to 749 as of Wednesday, AJC reports.

In early August, CNN reported that 54% of the monkeypox cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were among Black and brown men.

According to STAT News’ source at the CDC, there’s been a “recent increase in cases among Black men and a decrease among white and Hispanic men.”

“We see that kind of disparity across all health outcomes when it comes to African Americans. Health equity is just not there. It’s because we don’t access services for a myriad of reasons; we’re distrusting of the health community. So, even with the vaccinations, there are people who are undecided,” Nathan Townsend, manager of prevention services for NAESM, an Atlanta-based organization supporting the needs of those in the Black LGBTQ+ community, tells the AJC.  

“We’re seeing the same problems we have with COVID-19, that we have such a fragmented, underfunded, outdated public health data infrastructure that we can only know what’s happening by looking at more of these local jurisdictions,” Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist in Texas told STAT News.

Dr. Felipe Lobelo says simply that the disparity in health care based on race is “unacceptable,” adding that the shortcomings are historic—going back to the lack of equitable treatment of HIV/AIDS to, more recently, COVID-19.

Although 99% of the cases have been among men, anyone can get monkeypox. The virus is spread via prolonged skin-to-skin contact and touching items that were in contact with the infectious rash or the bodily fluids of a person with monkeypox.

AJC reports that Georgia has ordered 25,782 vaccines of the 47,996 allocated. It will order a little over 10,000 additional doses on Aug. 15.

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